A woman studies in one of the schools supported by the El Salvador Literacy Program.
Among a sea of young faces, eighty-year-old Maria’s expectant smile stood out. Although the El Salvador Literacy Program mainly serves youth, it is not uncommon to find parents and grandparents among the students.
Andrew Morgan, treasurer for Union College’s student government, met Maria while visiting her country with other student government leaders from Adventist colleges across North America. “She told me she was in the program to be an inspiration for her grandchildren,” he said. “The joy in her eyes was really touching.”
Annual tuition for the three-year school is only $40, but many of the locals have difficulty affording it because the illiterate are much more likely to be cheated by employers. “We can’t fully grasp that illiteracy means more than just not reading and not writing,” said Ruth Ibuado, Union’s student government president. “It’s a horrible way to live.”
Concert for Maria (and many others)
On October 30, Union’s student leaders invite their friends and community to enjoy good music for a good cause. The college will host a benefit concert starting at 8:00 p.m. featuring Roustabout, a Nashville-based trio, whose modern folk music has earned them critical acclaim. All proceeds, including food and drink, will be donated towards the El Salvador Literacy Program. The concert is one of several events organized by students dedicated to raising money to help Maria, her grandchildren and her countrymen learn to read.
Multiply your gift
According to Ibuado, ticket sales and gifts to the project will now help even more people because Hope For Humanity, a Seventh-day Adventist humanitarian organization, will match all donations three to one. “If a family of four comes to the concert, they are providing annual tuition for three students,” says Ibuado. “Not only will they get a good show, they are going to make a difference in somebody’s life.”
For the past three years, the Adventist Intercollegiate Association (AIA), made up of student government leaders from all North American Adventist colleges and universities, has voted to raise money for the El Salvador Literacy Program, which teaches first through sixth grade reading and writing in the Central American country. The association plans to raise $100,000, of which Union has pledged $5000. But Ibuado has a loftier goal—$5000 this semester and $5000 in the spring. “I want us to raise as much as we can because it’s something I believe in,” she said.
The fundraising efforts of Union College and AIA have made learning to read a reality for many like Maria and her family. “Helping people learn to read will permanently change their lives,” Morgan said.
No More Thumbprints
More than just cash, however, the students hope to raise awareness through the No More Thumbprints campaign. “Somebody who is illiterate has to use his or her thumbprint as a signature,” said Ibuado. “That blackened thumb is a mark of shame.” To acknowledge this, students sign their name in a large book and then stamp their thumbprint next to it. After making a tour of all the AIA schools, the book will eventually end up at the school in El Salvador.
The Roustabout concert will be held Oct. 30 at 8:00 p.m. in the Union College gymnasium, located at 3800 South 48th Street. Tickets are $8, available online or at the door. For more information or to purchase tickets, check out asb.ucollege.edu/thumbprints/benefitconcert.