AVANI’s First Graduate: Sunil Kamble’s Story

SunilSunil Kamble was the first in his family to graduate from school.  

The SSC exam (Secondary School Certificate) is a state board final exam all students must pass out of their 10th grade of secondary school education. Once a student passes the exam, they are eligible to enroll in junior college for the next two years.

The brickyard migrant workers reside in Kolhapur for seven months out of the year, from October to May.  When I first started working with the migrant workers, I soon discovered that none of the children were enrolled in school.

The AVANI Brickyard Schools

We developed and implemented schools within the brickyard labor camps themselves. To date, some 1,100 children are now being educated each school year in AVANI’s brickyard schools throughout the district.

In 2003, Sunil Kamble became the first child laborer AVANI rescued from the brickyards.  His daily wage for transporting 1,000 bricks on his head was just $0.41.

Sunil Kamble’s Story

Sunil became the first child enrolled in the newly formed brickyard school. One year later when the AVANI Children’s Home opened, Sunil became the first of 19 rescued child laborers aged 5 – 11. Sunil was eight years old. Sunil became the first person in his entire family to ever attend school. For this reason, school did not come easy for him. AVANI had two certified teachers come in each evening after school to help all of the children with their school work.

During the rainy season when migrant work is scarce, Sunil’s father would customarily take out a loan at a high interest rate to support his family. By the time Sunil reached the 10th grade, his fathers health was deteriorating and could no longer repay the loan. Sunil felt obligated to drop out of school to once again help support his family.

His father was shocked and upset with Sunil’s decision to drop out of school just four months before taking the SSC exam. One month later, his father died of a heart attack.  Sunil felt so guilty for causing his fathers death, he returned to AVANI three months later to complete his studies for the exam. After re-enrolling, AVANI and his school counseled him, raising his confidence level along the way.

He is now the first member of his family to be eligible for, take and pass the SSC exam.

Won’t you please help us, one child (or more) at a time?

Photo credit: Scott Kafora

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