Today I will introduce you to a boy whose cousins you already know. When we visited Anushka, Divyanshi and Ujjawal, we got to know that they live in a big joint family of 33 people – and that their cousin Rakesh also studies at our school!
Rakesh is ten years old and the youngest of four brothers. His father is one of the six brothers who will one day inherit the property on which there are now the six rooms that they all live in. This means that they have one room for the family of six. The room basically has only the bed in there which they all sleep in. Some space to put clothes and that’s it. Not that there was much more belongings – the joint family anyway shares a lot so the single families don’t need much on their own.
What they do need however is the income of each single father! Rakesh’s father earns his 3500 Rupees a month, approximately 55 US-Dollar, by working in a cowhouse. He takes care of other the cows, feeds them, cleans the area and also milks them twice a day. It is hard work but he is happy to work with living animals rather than in a factory where so many of his relatives and acquaintances work. And sometimes pilgrims who come by give him some tip – because cows are holy and he is doing such important work. For the pilgrims it is good Karma, for him it is necessary for surviving.
Rakesh’s father is also the one who takes care of the cow and the buffalo that the family owns and that give milk for the joint family. He teaches his sons how to do his work but at the same time sends them to school, hoping that they will one day earn more than him!
With his low income, he can send his boys only to schools with small fees. After the fees for three boys however, he had nearly nothing left to pay for his youngest son. He nevertheless found a school with minimal fees and for two years Rakesh studied there – until his parents noticed that he had learnt nearly nothing in two years! The standard of education there was so low that he would learn more by just learning with his brothers!
That’s how they followed the advice of Rakesh’s uncle and aunt, whose girls had been studying in our school and progressing fast: they sent Rakesh to our school in this year. He is ten years old and sits in the pre-school class. He is however not the oldest and thus feels well in his mixed age class. And, the teachers confirm it, he is finally learning.