Growing up in rural Nepal Kali Rokaya’s childhood was similar to other young girls her age. She didn’t go to school but instead helped her family in the fields, collecting grass and fodder for the animals. She married young, at the age of 15, and the busyness of life meant she never gained an education.
At the age of 33, Kali joined an INF Self-Help Group where she and other women her age became determined to write their own names. Today a group of 20 previously illiterate women, including Kali, can now read and write through INF’s informal education classes.
Here is Kali’s story…
Kali grew up in Kalikakhetu village where it was common practice for young girls to miss out on going to school. Once Kali was married she was expected to run the household leaving no time for formal education. She and her husband now have six children and life is incredibly busy.
When informal education became an option, Kali felt she was too old and initially didn’t see the value in going to class. It was only after joining an INF Self-Help Group two years ago that she began wishing she could read and write.
INF facilitated a Self-Help Group in Kali’s village that met monthly to discuss issues in the community. The group would develop action plans around health and community development and then implemented changes in the village. Each meeting the group kept minutes and members would sign their name to mark attendance. Unable to write her own name, Kali felt embarrassed at every meeting when it was time to sign the attendance. She began to see the value of education and, along with other women in the group, expressed a desire to learn to study.
The group collectively decided to approach INF about informal education classes. INF responded by providing informal education classes for a group of 20 illiterate women in the group. Almost every member of the group is now able to read and write at a basic level. The group has also been learning about family planning as well as hygiene and sanitation issues.
‘’Through the informal education class supported by INF, I have gained a huge opportunity to become literate,” says Kali.
Kali feels proud and happy that she has learnt to read and write at this stage of life. She now sends her children to school, giving them the opportunity of an education.
Self-Help Groups play a key role in INF’s Community Health and Development work across hundreds of communities in Western Nepal.