Never too old to learn
Nari Maya lives in Bhadauri village in the southern plains of Nepal. Like many older women in her village, she doesn’t know how old she is – her mother gave birth to her at home decades ago, and the birth of a daughter was not seen as worth recording. Nari Maya worked hard from an early age. From the time she could walk she began helping with household chores, collecting water and looking after younger children. She had no opportunity to attend school as a child. In her village, education for girls was not valued. She tells us “In our society, people look at the hands of women; if they see a soft and beautiful hand, they consider that woman as lazy who has wasted her time studying and say that she is worthless and will suffer in her life. But if a woman has hands with scars and rough hands, she is considered hard-working and she will have a prosperous life.”
What being illiterate means
But despite her hard work, her scarred and rough hands, Nari Maya’s life was not prosperous. Being unable to read and write was a big burden for her. She shared “I did not know how to read a letter. Wherever I went to the local health post, village offices, and any other government offices, I couldn’t read the signboards of where to go and what to do. Then I couldn’t sign any documents because I could not even write my name. I was cheated in the marketplace. I couldn’t use a phone because I didn’t understand how to read or recognize the numbers on it. When I had to take medicines, I could not read the instructions and I would forget the verbal instructions given by the doctors or pharmacists. It was very difficult for me.”
Together we can do it
Nari Maya wanted to learn to read and write, but again her community discouraged her. “You are too old. No-one has become successful by studying at old age”, they told her. But she was determined. When Asal Chhimekee Nepal (ACN) began female adult literacy classes in her village, in conjunction with the local church, Nari Maya signed up. Although it was difficult for her, she came 6 evenings a week to learn. Often she was reading by torchlight or candlelight as there was no electricity. When she became discouraged, others in the group encouraged her to continue. After 6 months Nari Maya completed the course.
Hope became Reality
“Now I can go to the market and no one cheats me,” she says. “It is so much easier for me if I need to go to town or to government offices. I can read the instructions the pharmacist writes on my medicine. I’m taking my medicine properly now and feel so much better. I’m so glad I took the literacy course. As well as learning to read and write, I now have a new confidence and find it easier to speak with people. No one is too old to learn if they persevere.”
You can aid people like Nari Maya by donating with the EziDebit button on this page.