PHEDIKHOLA, NEPAL – In the village of Pedikhola, Durga Kami , now 68, is finally completing his secondary education. Every school day, puts on his school uniform and, with the aid of his walking stick, walks for over an hour to reach the school for another day of learning.
Grandfather Kami had always dreamed of becoming a teacher, but Poverty and also the fact that he came from a lower caste prevented Kami finishing his studies as a child.
Now 68, the father of six and grandfather of eight goes to school six days a week to complete his studies and escape a lonely home life following the death of his wife, says a Reuter report
The Shree Kala Bhairab higher secondary school , buzzing with some 200 children is a welcome contrast to the isolation of a one-room home, with its leaking roof and frequent power cuts, where Kami lives in Syangja district, some 250 km west of Nepal’s capital Kathmandu.
“To forget my sorrows I go to school,” said Kami, one of the oldest students in Nepal, in the classroom where he studies alongside 14- and 15-year-olds.
Kami, whose children have all left the village, first went to Kaharay primary school where he learnt to read and write with the seven and eight-year-olds before leaving after finishing grade five with the 11-year-olds.
Shree Kala Bhairab teacher D.R Koirala then invited Kami to his school, which provided the grandfather with stationary and a school uniform including grey trousers, blue striped tie and white shirt. “This is my first experience teaching a person who is as senior as my father’s age,” Koirala said. “I feel very excited and happy.”
The school scholarship does not stretch to cover food, though, meaning Kami’s breakfast of rice with a fermented green vegetable known as “Gundruk” must sustain him until dinner.
The 20 children in his grade 10 class have dubbed Kami “Baa”, which means “father” in Nepali, but despite his age their elderly class mate joins in all activities, including volleyball in the schoolyard.
“I used to think ‘why is this old man coming to school to study with us?’ but as time passed I enjoyed his company,” Kami’s 14-year-old class mate Sagar Thapa said. “He is a little bit weak in studies compared to us but we help him out with that.”
Kami said he wanted to study until his death, adding he hoped it would encourage others to ignore age obstacles.”If they see an old person with white beard like me studying in school they might get motivated as well,” he said to Reuters
[Prepared by Sanjay from a media report]