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Aum Selden's New Year Gift

36-year-old Aum Selden is a mother of four and lives with her family at Changjiji Housing Complex in Thimphu. Her husband is a driver in the government department and the family sends three of their children to school. Originally from Trashigang Dzongkhag, in eastern Bhutan, Aum Selden could not go to school; instead the young girl ended up helping her parents on the farm.

Aum Selden in one of the health classes
“It was difficult getting around without the help of friends who could read the signs or help me fill up the forms,” says Aum Selden. “I could not even use my mobile phone. Being illiterate is like being a blind person. We always had to depend on others to show us the way and help us around.”

In April 2013, a group of community women came to the Model Center, Changjiji expressing their interest to learn Basic English and accordingly in response to the women’s interest, the two center coordinators started Basic English classes to a group of 20 community women. Aum Selden did not want to miss the opportunity the second time.

The classes were conducted for two hours four times a week. “Women took keen interest in the classes and this was driven by their need and urgency to possess Basic English skills,” says Dorji Wangchuk, one of the coordinators. “It was great experience teaching them.”

For Selden, attending English classes at the Center was great opportunity. On top of learning English she also had the opportunity to attend weekly women’s health training along with other community women. She brings her two-year-old daughter with her to the literacy and health classes.

Today, Aum Selden can not only operate her mobile phone, but also send text messages to her literate friends. She can also communicate in English and independently fill up forms while visiting the banks. “I feel proud of myself,” Aum Selden smiles. With confidence, she also took part in a quiz competition organized by Ministry of Health during the International Breastfeeding Week.

Congratulations Aum Selden! This is a story of a woman who braved the odds and succeeded in being inspiration and role model for other community women. This is a story of READ Bhutan and its drive to provide people with access to information and life-long learning!

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