Along the banks of the Bagmati, one of Kathmandu’s dirtiest rivers, in an area called Kalimati, live hundreds of immigrant low-cast Indian squatters.
The majority of the men in these slums sell fruit for a living, whilst the women and children, especially boys older then 8, collect rubbish in giant sacks at night around the busy and polluted tourist area of Thamel and sell it for recycling, getting a little money in the process.
In the past two months a group of Nepali and foreign volunteers have been working to get some 20 of the younger children into a local school. They met and convinced the children’s families, bought uniforms, shoes, books. They also provided a facility in close-by Teku, where the children come in the morning and afternoon and ready themselves. Classes have been being set-up for the elder brothers and sisters, who are illiterate and too old to go to school.
Most of these children still continue to collect rubbish in Kathmandu, some before school, some late into the night. Anyway, this operation will not only have an impact on their lives as individuals thrust into a totally new and structured environment, but also that of their community, that benefits from their children being given a chance to learn.
This is the story of Mukesh, 8 years old, and his family.