Reading the signs

Rehana came to this country 25 years ago with no English at all. She couldn't even catch the bus, until learning on class trips. Within a couple of years of joining the WEA, her new-found English secured a job as a cleaner and dinner supervisor. Rehana has travelled alone abroad, something she could never have done before.  

If I hadn’t gone to your classes, there’s no way I could have travelled

Rehana is one of those people who never gives up. She is a joy to teach in that respect: so determined to improve. It’s incredible to think that people can live in this country for more than 25 years barely speaking a word of English. Rehana couldn’t even catch a bus because she couldn’t read the signs.  

The course teaches simple life skills, such as booking an appointment or taking children to the park. Communication is so empowering. Some of the women have gone shopping for the first time. We go to the library. More than learning a language, we’re opening the door to the world outside.   

At first, Rehana struggled in our classes, but she kept going. She quickly made friends in the classroom, which helped her progress. She brings light wherever she goes. Using her new English, Rehana gained a job as a dinner supervisor in the school, where the classes take place. The headteacher says she is doing fantastically well.  

Recently, her father was ill in Pakistan, so she travelled there by herself, reading all the signs at the airport. She filled in all the leave of absence forms by herself. She was able to understand the flight announcements and order food on the flight, as she couldn’t take it onboard. Ordinarily, she would have sat silently and gone hungry. And whilst in Pakistan, she still joined her Zoom classes. This shows how much she is willing to learn! 

There’s so much we take for granted from reading every day. She told me: if I hadn’t gone to your classes, there’s no way I could have travelled. But it was her own hard work that achieved it. This award is recognition for an inspiring woman who just doesn’t give up. She has felt the power of learning and there’s no stopping her! 

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