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The Children Who Were Left Behind

October 18, 2017

It is difficult for most people to imagine adults who do not know ho to read. It may be hard to understand how this happened. Barring a profound cognitive disability, these adults were the neglected and abused children of yesterday. They were left behind.


“Becky” remembe


rs, “I was good in school until about the third grade.” She does not know why that changed. She just knows it became increasingly difficult to keep up. It’s unclear if she suffered some life-altering trauma. It is clear she did not have supporting parents to help her with her studies.


“Once my mom decided school was a waste of her time, she took me out. I was in the fifth grade,” she explains. Becky is now 52 years old and has spent five decades believing she was not good enough to read and that education was beyond her.


“Oscar” relates a similar fate, “My father had no patience with me. He beat me if I was late for school... if I brought home bad grades. I was terrified. I couldn’t concentrate on my lessons.”


“I tried my best, but I didn’t have anyone to help me after school. I just had beatings and chores. My mom stayed out of it.”


“When I was twelve, I came home one day and my father says, ‘I got a job for you. You start tomorrow. It’s time you paid your way.’ And that was that.”


Oscar’s wife read for him until she passed about ten years ago. To this day, he cannot try to learn without hearing his father yell at him.


*Due to the stigma associated with illiteracy, the names have been changed.


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