Projects for Peace: The Vision of Kathryn W. Davis

"My challenge to you is to bring about a mind-set of preparing for peace, instead of preparing for war."

Reading Towards Dreams

Project #
Wheaton College
  • Merretta Dickinson

Reading toward Dreams

Merretta Dickinson spent the summer of 2010 working for a nongovernmental organization in Namibia dedicated to enhancing educational opportunities for local children. When she returned to Wheaton, Merretta won a Projects for Peace grant to go back to Namibia and work with children again, this time with a goal to establish a sustainable literacy program in two schools in Katutura, near the capital city of Windhoek. Merretta firmly believes that if the children learn to read, they can succeed in school and have a chance to escape a cycle of poverty.

Merretta brought to her schools laptop computers loaded with phonics games, early reader books, and noncomputerized phonics and word-recognition games. Her summer was spent teaching phonics, reading to and with students, practicing drills, and instructing students and teachers alike how to use the computers and how to get the most out of the computer- based phonics programs. Her students ranged from first- graders to a 16-year-old seventh-grader who had never learned the alphabet.

As a result of Merretta’s work, the students made significant progress and the schools have committed to a focus on literacy using the resources she provided. Computers will be utilized for after-school literacy classes, and the phonics programs and resource materials will be adopted as part of the permanent curriculum.