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68 years young; Durga Kami is Nepal’s Oldest student

By - June 15, 2016
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Navesh Chitrakar

Photo credit: Navesh Chitrakar

You are never too old to learn new tricks… or at least thats something we too can learn from 68 year old student Durga Kami in Nepal.

Nepalese grandfather Durga Kami brushes his bushy white beard every morning, puts on his school uniform and, with the aid of his walking stick, trudges for over an hour to study for another day of learning.

Poverty prevented Kami finishing his studies as a child and achieving his goal of becoming a teacher.

Navesh Chitrakar

Navesh Chitrakar

Walking into the Shree Kala Bhairab higher secondary school and the buzz created by 200 children is a welcome contrast to the hush of the isolated 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,” Kami, one of the oldest students in Nepal, told reporters in the classroom where he studies alongside 14 and 15-year-olds.

Kami, whose children have all left his hilltop home, 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.

Naves Chitrakar

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.”

Naves Chitrakar

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.

“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.”

Naves Chitrakar

Kami said he wanted to studying 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.

At the request of some of his classmates, Kami has also promised that he will shave off his white beard if he passes the tenth grade!

What a legend… we wish Durga Kami all the very best!!

Naves Chitrakar

Naves Chitrakar