Impact Stories

Widad – Diary of a Mesopotamian Girl

Hi, my name is Widad Ali and I am originally from Iraq. When I first arrived in Canada, as an immigrant, my family and I registered our names with the Multicultural Association of Fredericton (MCAF), in order to get Level 5 English for the citizenship application, in the future.

Then I noticed that in Canada, everyone is encouraged to learn, no matter the age. Besides, I felt lonely because everyone here is busy, either with work, or study. So, I was thinking of continuing my studies, especially now that my children are grown up and able to depend on themselves.

One day I was in the public library in Fredericton, and I noticed on the announcement board an advertisement about the Adult Literacy Fredericton program. So, I screenshot the notice and later contacted them for more information. The coordinator of the program was such a helpful person and I liked her British accent! Actually, I wished that I speak like her! So, my husband and I started the program and taking lessons at UNB Campus, where our sweet teacher, Gail, works.

Our class was mainly conversational with some theory focusing on grammar rules. My main goal was to achieve a good level of writing. Actually, I showed my teacher, Gail, some of my writing attempts, and she encouraged me to continue writing.

Earlier, I had participated in the ‘Living Book’ experience that took place in the public library in Fredericton. I was inspired by that experience and the people who I met there, to write a booklet. I don’t have a special plan for my writing, I just write what comes into my mind.

I am working on a small goal, which is to publish a story book, so people here in Canada can see the world through an immigrant’s eyes. Also, I am trying to break the ice between different cultures.

Besides learning English, I registered in the French program for beginners, which is held by Mathieu and Zakaria at MCAF. New Brunswick is a bilingual province, and learning French will be an advantage for getting a better job, and to help my children in their studies. Also, I like to read all the signs and brochures that are written in French.

I have a hunger to learn everything; in our religion, we are encouraged to learn from the cradle to the grave. The first word in our holy book, Quran, was ‘read’ – a command to learn and read. Besides, Canada has widened my vision to be open to different cultures and experiences, and in this country we are encouraged, as individuals, to take action and depend on ourselves to make the change.

So, instead of spending my times on regretting the opportunities that I have lost, let me benefit from the moment that I live in. Let me be positive and make a small change, even if it isn’t significant; but at least let me try!

Danny’s Story

Danny has acquired many skills that include repairing chainsaws and lawn mowers, shoveling snow, providing general maintenance and painting.  He keeps up with the news of the day by watching TV and listening to the radio. However, for Danny, reading a story or a book for pleasure or necessity has not always been possible-until recently.

It has been almost two years since Danny tackled his first basic lessons. His ambition to read was very real and it has not wavered since. He has persevered and his enthusiasm to read continues. He often expresses surprise that the time goes by so quickly when he is reading or doing exercises. Now he can often readily correct his own errors.

He describes some of the benefits of reading as follows: reading stories to his grandchildren; reading a book from cover to cover (he enjoys reading books from the literacy section of the public library and from the supplementary reading books in the tutoring room); reading instructions with regards to safety; reading grocery lists, labels on food products or signs at grocery stores and markets.

Learning by sound (phonics), sight, practice, practice, review, review, and more practice and review, Danny is progressing. He is proud of himself and eager to share his new skills with his family.

Ann’s Story

I was seven years old when I started school. I don’t ever remember learning the sounds of my letters. That is probably why I had such a hard time learning to read. When I look back on those days, I feel sick that I never learned all those things. When my children started school, I thought maybe I would be able to learn with them. I would hear my husband helping them while I was doing dishes. I learned some things, but I didn’t learn how to read. When I used to take a friend to the library to get books I would say to myself, “I wonder what it would be like to sit down and read a book.” That was always the worst part about going to the library, not being able to read a book.

Sometimes my husband would be reading the newspaper and he would say “Listen to this,” and we would laugh about how some things were worded. Even though I couldn’t read those letters to the editor I could tell there were mistakes.

After my husband passed away I thought “What am I going to do?” I didn’t know how to read very well. One day I made a phone call to a lady by the name of Deborah who looks after the Adult Literacy program in Fredericton. And a while later I met my tutor. It wasn’t easy for me to do this but I’m glad I did. My reading is getting better every day. I have read a few books and I enjoy it.

I have learned so much since I have been going to Adult Literacy. Every day my tutor helps me feel a little better about myself. If you have the same problem, you have to take the first step. Deborah’s phone number is (506) 458-1396. You might have to leave a message, but she will get back to you.

Rollande’s Story

My name is Rollande. I come from a large family, I have eight sisters and four brothers. I was born in Bathurst and my family was French. We moved to Fredericton, New Brunswick when I was six years old and I did not have anyone to help me with my English lessons. It was hard going to school; I was bullied by the children when I was eight years old. I was kept out of school to look after my younger sisters and brothers. I moved out on my own when I was fifteen, I got married when I was sixteen, and I had my two children soon after. I made sure my kids went to school so they did not struggle like me. They both have good jobs and I am really proud of them. I was motivated by my granddaughter and grandson to be able to read English. My teacher Pat motivated me every week and now it’s my turn to read and write and I am thankful for this chance. It is helping me with my self-esteem. I would like to fill out my own forms at the doctor’s office so I do not have to depend on someone else for help. Laubach Literacy Fredericton is helping me do that and I have completed the first level and I am working on level two. I started the program on October 3rd, 2013.

Brenda’s Story

The reasons I came to Laubach Literacy Fredericton was to learn how to read and write. And so I can have a better job and more choices.

One of the first things I wanted to learn was how to write my name, address and phone number-this was a goal. Another new goal is to learn how to make lists of things I need so that I could learn how to live on my own.
Coming to Laubach Literacy has made me happy. Why? I get out more, meet new people, and I am proud of myself and my family is proud of me. My family and friends want to see my work-my improvement. My confidence has improved because I’m not afraid to try something new.

I use to be afraid and shy of horses when I was young. I had a teacher who had a farm with horses and the teacher helped me to learn not to be afraid of them. I was also afraid to learn how to read and write, but I’m not afraid anymore.

My tutor and I go out for coffee, to the bookstore, to the library (where I got my own library card), and to a show at the Fredericton Playhouse and the Laubach Literacy Fredericton Annual General Meeting. I am now able to find my way to Laubach on my own and travel the city bus. I have learned how to print the letters of the alphabet and to remember them and how to sound out letters. I liked learning how to use the dictionary to look up a word.

My future plans are to look for a better paying job, a full time job or even to go to school to learn how to work with animals. I would like to live on my own someday and learning how to read and write is important so I can be on my own.

I would like to thank Laubach Literacy Fredericton, for teaching me to learn to read and write.


Terri-Lynn’s Story

All through my school years my program was modified. I had a lot of trouble with reading and math. Sometimes I longed to be able to read better. I always enjoyed purchasing novels and wanted to learn to read better.

My mom signed me up in different groups to help me. 3 years ago I started Sylvan Learning. I liked it there but I told mom I felt out of place. My peers were younger students, a 12 year old and a 10 year old. I wanted to be with people my age. I’m 30 so I sometimes felt ashamed to be with young students trying to learn. Mom continued to try to find an age appropriate group. Being an employee of the province, I do data entry with Records and Management. This is a place where improved reading skills would be a great benefit. Filing files for storage and getting them when a customer needs them requires number understanding. One evening as mom was reading the newspaper she came upon an ad in the Oromocto Post. She told me it was for adults and it was a learning program. I was hesitant as I did not feel it had anything to offer me and I did not believe it would make a difference. An appointment was made with Mrs. Little


who I felt very at ease with. She said some testing would be done to see my level of reading. When she explained that I would be one on one with another adult in a learning setting I felt good. Once my meeting was set up and met my tutor Vivian, the rest was history.

Vivian is so good and her time she gives to tutor is a gift to me for sure. I have come so far in reading since I started Laubach tutoring. I now know that in the proper setting with the supports provided to me by Laubach my reading ability is improving and will continue to do so.

With no pressure and one on one, I can say I have to thank Vivian and Laubach Literacy. I feel more confident in myself, in what I can do and what I continue to achieve through my ability within the right setting to achieve even more in life. In the future I want to keep up my program with Laubach and become the best I can. I feel more confident in my job, both as having a better reading ability and also my knowing and believing that there are people out there in society that helps through their time and energy to enhance people like myself’s life. Thank you Laubach for giving me a chance and helping me restore my belief in myself.

Edna’s Story

Learning to Read is Wonderful!

I wanted to learn to read. One day a friend told me about the literacy program. She told me that she would call around to find out where to go. Well, she did! Now I have someone to help me. New doors are opening for me. I think it is wonderful to learn to read!

When I started, I could make out some words. Now I can read sentences and stories. I like to challenge myself by doing word puzzles. I can read directions on the back of the box to cook the food and medicine labels that the doctors give me. I can tell who calls me so I can call them back. I can write letters to my friend and read her letters too. I have started my own journal to write what I am thinking. Life is more fun and I am more confident.

I like to take on more challenges at work. When I see some new names on doors, I figure them out. Some machines have words on them and the chemicals I use I try to read. Some people put funny sayings on their walls and I try to read them. I am always trying to read.

I would like to be a tutor someday. I want to help someone else. Someday I hope this person will be a hero with me. I would also like to learn a new career, maybe go to college!

My rule is: don’t give in and don’t give up!

Marg’s Story

My school years were a nightmare. My best year was kindergarten. I liked my teacher and thought that school would be great. Grade 4 was the start of a downhill slide. I would ask my teacher for help, and would get in trouble but no help. I went to the principal and asked to be put in the opportunity class. That was a class known as the stupid class. I needed help. I was willing to do whatever but no one took the time to help or even listen. In Grade 8 my life became a real hell. I remember so clearly the day the teacher gave the class a spelling test, and she dropped a Grade 5 speller on my desk and said, “Here, you do this. That’s where you are.” I was so embarrassed in front of the whole class. I threw the book on her desk and said “No! I’m in Grade 8 not 5.” Instead of giving me help, they just overlooked me.

I started Grade 9 with no clue. I started in September and quit in December and got married in February at the age of 15. I had five children by the age of 25. Their school years were very hard for me. To send a note or sign a form, I was put on the spot many times. When I wrote a grocery list it was only me that knew what I really needed. If you were going to get pit stick, film for a brownie, and four cans of cock, would you know what was on the list?

Years passed and I ended up on my own and I feel that my divorce cost me so much more because when I got a letter, I always had to call the lawyer because I never understood the letter.

Many more years passed and I felt that I would settle with things the way they were. I remarried and then one day a friend called and said that there was an ad in the paper to help adults learn to read. That was the beginning of a new life.

I called and left my name and wrong number. Then I called back with my right number. The person getting the call must have thought, “We have a real winner here.” Well, within days I met with a real live angel. That angel is Kim Schnarr. We talked, we cried and I went home. Within two days Kim called and said, “I have a tutor for you.” I was so happy. I then asked “Who?” and she said, “Myself.”

We have worked together for a year now and what a great friendship we have. We work hard and laugh just as hard. Kim has been there with me in some very hard times and she has been what has kept me going. Years ago I could have just walked, but not now. One of the best things to come into my life is Kim and her patience with me. I now read aloud, spell for others, and I no longer feel like a fool. Oh yes, and that grocery list? Did you know what it was? Pit stick, film for a brownie and four cans of cock? It was deodorant, toilet paper and four cans of coke!

I’m now work at The Doctor Margaret Savage Crisis Centre in Cold Lake as a crisis intervention worker. I work with clients one on one. We house women and children up to 31 at a time. I also answer the phones for the crisis centre and 5 help lines. With the help lines we help women, men and young adults. We are there for everyone. The first week I was there I had two suicide calls with in hours. Thank goodness I had just finished a course and got my certificate that day.
Thank God for Kim Schnarr and her hours of understanding for me and my needs. And all the others who helped me to believe in myself. Not a day goes by that I don’t stop and think about you all back home. I’m so thankful. My goal in life is to see that others reach their dreams as I have.

In Aug. of 2007  I will be doing an online course through Portage College to get my degree. Each day to me is a learning day no matter how little or big just as long as I learn something.