The beauty of polished granite and sandstone is stunning and has the look and feel of elegance. The stone quarries where the granite comes from is a less than alluring sight.
The laborers are often from poor low-caste families wearing little or no protective gear inhaling dust and chemicals. They work for long hours, often 10 hours a day for as little as $3 a day. They cannot make ends meet and sometimes wind up entering into high interest loans which leave them to be slaves to the quarry owners. They can never make enough to pay back the loan and so every family member becomes a laborer in an attempt to pay off the debt.
Ashish and Amit’s parents are both stone quarry laborers. Five years ago, because of the burden of debts they carried, the parents left their children behind to be cared for by their grandmother, who is also a laborer. Despite being elementary school-age children, they started working alongside their grandmother. Since they are very poor they all have to work to make ends meet.
On one of his field visits, Principal Gerard saw these children working with their grandmother. He convinced the grandmother that the children would have more opportunities available to them by attending school rather than laboring away in the quarry. He gave the children admission to the school and now they are both thriving.
These children would have continued the cycle as manual laborers for the rest of their lives and would not have known anything more than the rock quarries. Now, Ashish is at the top of his 8th grade class, and Amit continues to thrive.