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Saturday, March 3, 2012

Mercy Learning Center

I was invited by friends at Fairfield University to tour Mercy Learning Center and learn their success of bringing literacy to several women in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The center began from the ground up and works on the premise that investing in mothers is an investment in families. The center works to teach adult women how to read and write. These are women who have migrated to the United States for various reasons, who dropped out of school for various reasons, and one woman, age 82, who never was taught to read and write because she was raising a family on her own (with all of her children having college education, she decided she needed to learn to read and write. Her tutor at the center is 72 years old).

Mercy Learning Center works on the passion of donations and volunteers. The karma oozes from their doors and they implement a model that works. While the mothers work rigorously on their education, a day care center is sponsored to watch toddlers. There is job placement, GED support, and basic ESL. The school enrolls over 300 women, but the waiting list is as long as those who attend. They realize they need to expand but they do not have resources at this time.

My friends in Syracuse have reported there are similar needs there. Mothers of children who arrive to the United States often do not receive the literacy instruction that their children do. As a result, they can not help their children with school work and find it difficult navigating a life in the United States.

The highlight of yesterday's visit was the essay read by one of the mothers who is ready for her GED, wishes to attend college, and hopes to one day be an accountant. Her story from South America to the United States was remarkable. She works two jobs, raises a family, and studies. She sleeps little. She fights to find success in the U.S. It was an honor to work with them.

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