The object of employing children is not to train them,
but to get high profits from their work.
– Lewis Hine, 1908
7 days per week…
12 hours per day (with a 2 hour break on Saturdays)…
150 times a day… 24 bricks each load.
Susmita lugs almost 50,000 pounds of bricks per week out of the kiln to a waiting truck. At age 13, she earns less than 3 dollars per day while working at one of Nepal’s estimated 750 brick factories. School for her is not an option.
Susmita is only one of the estimated 60 thousand children who work in the brick kilns. They live in temporary shelters of stacked brick and tin roofs. Their floor is damp clay. Sanitation is poor. Their bathroom an open field. Healthcare is lacking. Schooling of any type is rare. Nepalese law forbids children to work in the dangerous environs of the brick industry, but the law is not enforced.
Lalu, 16, another young worker, was sent to Nepal by his family in India so that he could earn money for his family. “We don’t have any work at home, so I am sent here to work for six months.” After the brick making season is over he will return to India for the harvest.
Children in Nepal are expected to contribute to their families economic needs, but this often goes beyond simple household chores to the risks and dangers of heavy labor in industries such as brick making, carpet weaving, stone quarries, and mines.
As the sun begins to set, Susmita hauls her last bricks for the day out of the kiln. Her dirt encrusted fingers clasp the small scrap of paper with tiny marks that represent her toil for the day…over 3,000 bricks…less than 3 dollars earned.
CALL TO ACTION; If you’d like to learn more about CICM and the help they provide the brick makers, contact Central India Christian Mission.
All photographs ©Copyright Gary S. Chapman
(Nikon D4, 70-200mm f2.8 @140mm, 1/2500 sec, f2.8, ISO 250)
(Nikon D4, 70-200mm f2.8 @200mm, 1/3200 sec, f2.8, ISO 250)
(Nikon D4, 70-200mm f2.8 @98mm, 1/5000 sec, f2.8, ISO 250)
(Nikon D4, 24mm f1.4, 1/3200 sec, f2, ISO 100)
(Nikon D4, 24mm f1.4, 1/2000 sec, f2, ISO 100)