Monday, June 13, 2016

NEPAL - Bricks and Child Labor

"Can earthquake-stricken Nepal eliminate brick industry’s reliance on child labor?" PBS NewsHour 6/8/2016


SUMMARY:  Heavy lifting is a way of life in Nepal.  But the 250,000 workers -- many of them children -- manning the Himalayan country’s brick kilns suffer on a different level, toiling in terrible conditions and earning less than one cent per brick.  In collaboration with the Christian Science Monitor, special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro reports on efforts to reform Nepal’s critical brickmaking industry.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO (NewsHour):  Heavy lifting is a way of life in this Himalayan country, but workers in Nepal’s brick kilns are in a league of their own.

Here, work is an endless cycle of loads that weigh more than the laborers who carry them, of polluted, oppressive conditions, grinding coal to stoke kilns that must be kept alive at some 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit round the clock, of molding clay into raw bricks that feed the ovens.

TILOOK MOKTAN, Nepal (through interpreter):  You don’t use your brains to do this work.  It’s just physical labor, but we have no choice.  We have debts to pay.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO:  Tilook Moktan and his wife, Rina, say life is a never-ending cycle of debt for medical bills, for just running the household, they say, and to put their children in school.

TILOOK MOKTAN (through interpreter):  I want to see that my children are educated, that they complete their higher education.  Work is too tough in the brick sector.

MICHAEL HOLTZ, Christian Science Monitor:  They will get up at midnight, before it gets too hot, work until dawn, sleep for a few hours, get up, start molding more bricks, and do it again the next night.

ANN HERMES, Christian Science Monitor:  It’s physically demanding at all aspects.  And that’s why I think its startling to see children.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO:  We partnered with Christian Science Monitor reporter Michael Holtz and photographer Ann Hermes, who took these still photographs, on a story we found especially relevant now in this earthquake-ravage country about an industry notorious for trapping children and families in poverty.

MICHAEL HOLTZ:  I think we really wanted to get a sense of, now that reconstruction is finally getting under way in Nepal, and demands for bricks is going to go so high, what — how that would affect the brick kiln industry itself, in terms of, would there be increases in child labor, increases in bonded labor?

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