The Magic Of Letters Chameli Waiba was raised in a village in Nepal and didn't attend school as a child. When she finally learned to read as an adult, Waiba discovered the power words could have to change her life, as well as the lives of others in her rural community.
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The Magic Of Letters

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The Magic Of Letters

The Magic Of Letters

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(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

I: I believe in adaptation.

I: I believe in a silver lining.

I: I believe that being flexible keeps me going.

I: I believe every single person deserves to be acknowledged.

I: This, I believe.

LIANE HANSEN, Host:

Here's our series curator, independent producer Jay Allison.

JAY ALLISON: Here is Chameli Waiba with her essay for This I Believe, read in English by Ramyata Limbu, recorded in Katmandu.

CHAMELI WAIBA: (Nepali spoken)

RAMYATA LIMBU: Before learning how to write, my life was like the nearby Indrasarovar Lake, always stagnant. I had the pain of child marriage, my husband did not support me, abject poverty was my way of life and I didn't have any skill or courage to do anything. But I saw that the number of people learning to read and write was growing - and their lives were improving. I then realized it was neither wealth nor beauty that I lacked, but letters.

I: I am now heading five women's microsaving groups. Ten or 20 rupees that used to be spent buying petty cosmetic items have been collected into a fund of 300,000 rupees. We are planning to open a small cooperative in the village soon. We also want to run permanent literacy classes for women and open a library. All this is the result of my knowing the alphabet, even though I learned it late. Letters have immense power. They have magic. The greatest thing in the world is the alphabet. That is my belief.

WAIBA: (Nepali spoken)

ALLISON: To find out more about her and to see links to the This I Believe project in Nepal, visit NPR.org/ThisIBelieve, where you can also submit your own essay. By the way, our series will be finishing its four-year run in April, so, if you want to send us an essay, do it soon. For This I Believe, I'm Jay Allison.

HANSEN: Jay Allison is co-editor with Dan Gediman, John Gregory and Viki Merrick of the book, "This I Believe, Volume 2: More Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women."

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