Each morning, Durga Kami puts on his school uniform and prepares for another day of 10th grade. But not before he brushes his woolly, white beard.
Because unlike most 10th-grade students, Durga Kami is a 68-year-old grandfather.
Kami, a father of six and grandfather of eight, lives by himself in a one-room house in Syangja, Nepal. Photographer Navesh Chitrakar of Reuters followed Kami as he experienced a typical school day.
Kami grew up poor, and his family couldn’t afford to keep him in school as a child.
Though he was unable to complete his studies, Kami never gave up on his dream of pursuing his education and one day becoming a teacher. Following his wife’s death 15 years ago, Kami decided to work through his grief by returning to school. He even received a scholarship to cover his uniform and supplies.
Now in 10th grade, his 20 classmates call him Baa, which means father in Nepali. But even though he’s old enough to be their grandfather, Kami isn’t sitting on the sidelines.
Other than the fantastic beard, grandchildren, and decades of life experience, Kami is a lot like his classmates.
Six days a week, he walks more than an hour to Shree Kala Bhairab Higher Secondary School.
He’s quick to participate in class and isn’t ashamed to ask for help when he needs it.
He even plays sports with his friends at lunchtime.
Kami said he plans to study and learn for the rest of his life.
Not only that, but he hopes his effort encourages others to return to the classroom and improve their lives through education.
“If they see an old person with white beard like me studying in school they might get motivated as well,” Kami told Reuters.
Though he’s still years away from becoming a teacher, Kami’s already espoused one of life’s greatest lessons.
He’s living proof that we can be do-ers, dreamers, and go-getters at any age. And with the right attitude, there’s no limit to what any of us can do.
Visit the Reuters site to see the rest of Navesh Chitrakar’s beautiful photos of Durga Kami.
Also, Kami promised his classmates that he will shave his beard if he passes 10th grade. Here’s to good scores and a smooth chin from here on out!