Learn­ing to read aged 48 changes life

The Bay Chronicle - - WHAT’S ON - BAY­LEY MOOR

Read­ing was Richard Nahi’s great­est fear. But aged 48, he con­fronted his de­mon and learned.

‘‘Since child­hood it has haunted me not be­ing able to read and write,’’ the for­mer gang mem­ber turned pas­tor from Ko­hukohu said.

Upon con­nect­ing with Chris­tian­ity 10 years ago and re­flect­ing on him­self, Nahi says he wanted to ed­u­cate him­self.

His great­est fear was read­ing. While there were re­sources at school for him to learn Nahi says his fam­ily en­vi­ron­ment pre­vented him from learn­ing.

‘‘Words can be­come a curse - when some­thing neg­a­tive is said to you it’s a curse.

‘‘When some­one says ‘you’re dumb, you can’t learn’ that’s what you be­lieve.’’

Nahi says his for­mer life­style in­cluded be­ing a gang mem­ber in­volved in drugs, al­co­hol and vi­o­lence.

‘‘I am en­cour­ag­ing oth­ers [to learn].

‘‘You only get one chance on this earth, any­one can do it, it’s just how much you want to do it.’’

Al­though he has mostly taught him­self with help from his fam­ily - in­clud­ing his nine-year-old grand­daugh­ter - the Adult Lit­er­acy Ru­ral Trust have sup­ported him with free Skype ses­sions at his iso­lated home.

He says work­ing with the trust for the past two months has re­ally ce­mented his learn­ing.

‘‘I al­ways knew ed­u­ca­tion was the key. It’s a fear thing, you think you are the only per­son who can’t read or write and if you say you can’t do it you fear back­lash from oth­ers.’’

He says there comes a point where that has to change and he is en­cour­ag­ing oth­ers to learn.

Nahi says al­though he has held man­age­rial po­si­tions in his ca­reer and trained other staff mem­bers, he would of­ten bring re­ports and forms home from work so his wife could help him.

‘‘I got pretty good at how to get around the sit­u­a­tion.’’

Now Nahi can write his ser­mons, read the bi­ble and the news­pa­per.

The Adult Lit­er­acy Ru­ral Trust are look­ing for vol­un­teers to run a ‘lit­er­acy hub’ at the Kaikohe Li­brary.

To find out more email ad­min@adultlit­er­acy.ac.nz or phone 0800 891 339.

Richard Nahi says read­ing is key to a good life.

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