The Unatti Foundation is a humanitarian organization located in Los Angeles which provides support to families living in Nepal. This year Unatti volunteers visited an area called The Brick Factory where men, women and children work for less than one dollar a day making and carrying bricks. The volunteers brought fleece blankets, Dollies, and Teddy Bears… and provided financial support.
Wanting to learn more about what a brick factory in Nepal is all about, I did some online researching. Apparently the construction business in Nepal is booming as buildings and homes need to be rebuilt after the devastating 2015 earthquake, creating a great need for building supplies including bricks. Due to the seasonal nature of the job and the tough and demanding working conditions, brick workers often come from marginalized and poor communities which have few employment opportunities, thus providing brick kiln owners with cheap labor. The upshot is an industry ripe for exploitation. Experts estimate that up to 28,000 children work in brick kilns across Nepal, of whom half are under 14.
According to an article from The Associated Press:
Brick-making is grueling work, involving packing clay into rectangular lumps, firing them in kilns and hauling them to enormous stacks awaiting transport. The hours are also long — sometimes 12 hours a day.
But the workers, many with family in shattered villages, are also racing against time and weather. With Nepal’s needs so vast, and its future prospects uncertain, many are doing overtime because it’s the only job they can get.
“I have to work to feed my family,” said Kalu Ram Bika, 37, who sends some of the money he earns to his parents in their village in southern Nepal. “We work. We get fed. It does not matter how bad the situation is. We have to work.”