My Name is Lama Zeinoun Tabet. I am a 36 years old woman living in Beirut, Lebanon.
In 2007, I worked as a Trainer in the “WEPASS project” by UNFPA and Lebanese National Commission for Women. The objective of the project was Women Empowerment and it was implemented in 10 Lebanese villages in South Lebanon and Bekaa.
I was asked to develop and implement training sessions on “Household Budgeting” to the villages’ women. The program was going on well, I did 3 workshops in every village and women were able to understand the concepts of variable and fixed revenue, variable and fixed expenses, income etc…. They acquired the skills to build a budget and maintain it. I was satisfied with my work till we reached a village where the women who were supposed to show up did not come and instead came a group of illiterate women. The first day we visited them, we were not able to do any of the workshops because these women did not know how to read or write. I felt helpless. All the books and resources I had were powerless in front of this group of women who were illiterate but very determined to learn. The asked us to do something. They all worked with their husbands in the fields, growing crops and also at home. They wanted to learn and insisted.
I came back to Beirut that night with the project coordinator and all the way back we were trying to come up with something for these women. Their thirst for learning and determination was so intense that it was impossible for us to surrender.
We spent a week talking and discussing what to do, until I had this idea. I thought that even though they were illiterate but they could all see. So why not use images and colors to teach them at least the meaning of fixed and variable expenses and how they can distribute their income accordingly.
We spent another week preparing colored envelopes, colored papers and picture stickers.
We went back to the village a week later and the session went extremely well. Using color codes and images, we were able to teach them the difference between variable expenses, fixed expenses, revenue and savings. They were able to identify specific types of expenses and revenues using picture stickers. They also learned how to distribute their revenue among the expenses and savings using the color-coded envelopes.
Watching these women working with the colored envelopes, papers and picture stickers made me realize that there are no barriers that can hold in front of determination even if one of those barriers was illiteracy.
Lama Zeinoun Tabet
Beirut – Lebanon