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  • Writer's picturePhilip Ammerman

I can't read

Updated: Jul 23, 2020

One of those surreal incidents happened to me today.

I went to a Bank of Cyprus ATM to withdraw cash for payments. A man of about 45 walks up to me, holds out his ATM card, and asks “can you help me?”

I looked around thinking it was some kind of scam, but no, he genuinely needed help. He wasn’t able to use the ATM machine. I explained to him that I didn’t work at the bank, but he really needed help.

So, I helped. I showed him how to enter his PIN, make choices on the screen, print or not print his receipt. I explained what the total balance and the available balance was.

After a while he was straightened out. He looked at me and said, ashamed, “Δεν ξέρω γράμματα.” — “I cant read.”

Total shock. I can’t imagine how you can go through life not being able to read.

Suddenly, all these statistics I’ve read in either fintech (serving underbanked populations) or education and training (lack of basic skills) hit home. And I suddenly am very grateful for something I consider a basic skill.

Behind so much of what we do there are real human beings, many of them in need.

Let’s help them.

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