Meet Gabriel. He Wants to Change His World. Let’s Help Him.

September 8, 2012 By

By Samuel Alomenu

When 14-year-old Gabriel grows up, he wants to be an accountant. The junior high school student is very good at mathematics, and often is the only student who can solve his teacher’s equations. He believes if he works hard, he may have the opportunity to become a bookkeeper and earn a better living than his parents do.

If you go a bit further and ask him a few more questions, you’ll see what he really wants is what we all want, for ourselves and for our own children. He wants to be a good person. He wants to be his better self.

Gabriel believes reading will help him learn to overcome challenges and create a better life. We agree. #booksforall

Reading books has planted this seed in his head, inspiring him to rise above the challenges he faces in rural Ghana and to achieve anything he puts his mind to.

“I have good chance of becoming a better person when I learn from the lives of people in the stories I read,” Gabriel said. “I think books give me a source where I can learn from the lives of other people. This is why I especially like to read storybooks because I believe I can become a better person when I learn from the challenges of other people.”

His favorite title is The Deliverer, a Ghanaian book in the Worldreader collection that he read on his Kindle; the book won the Burt Award for African Fiction, which recognizes excellence in young adult fiction. Gabriel admires the courage and humility of the protagonist, Osei Tutu, and how he was able to succeed after all the challenges he had to go through.

This is how Gabriel talks now. Can you hear his excitement, certainty and determination?

There’s a bittersweet side to his story. His parents may not be able to see him through to university.  His father works in a mill, his mother is a farmer; money is scarce.

But, that hasn’t stopped Gabriel. In fact, now armed with the knowledge that his literary heroes have also had to overcome many obstacles to reach a goal, Gabriel’s more determined than ever.

This Saturday, in celebration of UNESCO’s International Literacy Day, let’s help kids like Gabriel achieve their dreams. This year’s theme is “Literacy and Peace,” and the organization makes a strong case for how literacy can bring people closer to attaining individual freedoms, help them better understand the world and more effectively resolve conflicts.

Could a Ghanaian teenager who reads often, likes to solve math problems and dreams of being an accountant usher in the understanding and conflict-resolution skills the world needs? We think so.

Let’s keep inspiring Gabriel to keep becoming whoever he’s meant to be. Please donate to Worldreader’s Million Books campaign so kids like Gabriel have more access to books and can dream big dreams.

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If you’re on Twitter today, please spread the word about the important role literacy plays in all our lives by using these hashtags — #intllitday, #booksforall and #millionbooks.