Background -2: Solace in the past

Iram Ahmed

The only place that ever felt like home was this community, called Literacy House.

At the request of Mahatma Gandhi, Mrs. Welthy Fisher, an American missionary, founded Literacy House in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India, in 1950s. Its motto clearly summarized their big idea, "It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness."

The training institute pioneered adult education in India and was established as a model to be replicated across the world to eradicate poverty. By the 1990s, it had its own mass comm training center that brought in revenue, its own farms to train young farmers, a clinic, school, amphitheater, library, a local bank branch and a guest house. The staff represented all religions and castes; there was always reason to celebrate.

What a novel idea!

None of that, however, made sense to an eight-year-old me.

To me, Literacy House was an obscure, magical, enchanted forest. There were the elders that represented the good forces, my dad being the leader [insert proud face]. Of course, I was going to be just like him when I grew up.


Featured photo: Literacy House | Courtesy: Ankur Yadav

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