Nabila works 10 or more hours a day, doing the heavy, messy job of packing clay into molds and hauling a wheelbarrow full of bricks. At 12 years old, she has now been working in brick factories for half her life, and is perhaps the oldest of all her coworkers.
already high, Growing number of children working in AfghanistanFinancial aid was cut just a year earlier, prompted by the collapse of the economy after the Taliban took over the country and the world.
A recent Save the Children survey estimated that Half of Afghan families have hired children to put the food at the dinner table As livelihoods collapsed.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in the many roadside brick factories north of the capital, Kabul. The conditions in the oven are tough even for adults. But in almost all of them, four or five-year-olds work with their families from early morning till late at night during the summer season.
Children do each step of the brick making process, They carry water drums, load wooden brick molds filled with clay to dry in the sun. They move and push a wheel full of kiln-dried bricks to fire, then push back a wheel full of kiln-dried bricks. Everywhere they are picking up bricks, stacking them, sorting. They rummage through the smoldering charcoal that has been burned in the kiln to pieces that can still be used, inhaling the soot and singeing their fingers.
Children born out of knowing little more than the needs of their family, act beyond their years with a determination and a serious sense of responsibility. When asked about toys or games, they smile and shrug. Only a few have gone to school.
12-year-old Nabeela has been working in brick factories since the age of five-six. Like many other brick workers, his family works part of the year in a kiln near Kabul, another part in a kiln on the outskirts of Jalalabad, near the Pakistani border.
A few years ago, he was able to attend school for some time in Jalalabad. She wants to go back to school but she can’t, her family needs her job to survive, she said with a soft smile.
“We can’t think of anything other than work,” he said.
Mohabbat, a 9-year-old boy, paused for a moment with a painful expression as he carried a load of coal. “I have a pain in my back”Told.
When asked what he wanted, he first asked, “What is the desire?”
After explaining once, he fell silent for a moment, thinking. “I want to go to school and eat well,” he said later, “I want to do good work so that we can have a house.”
The landscape around the factories is foggy and dry, with black smoke and soot emanating from the chimneys of the furnaces. Families live in dilapidated mud houses next to kilns, each with a corner where they make their own bricks. For most people, the meal of the day is bread soaked in tea.
Rahim has three children who work with him in a brick kiln, aged between 5 and 12 years. The children had gone to school and Rahim, who is known by only one name, said he had resisted hiring them for a long time. But even before the Taliban came to power, as the war continued and the economy deteriorated, he said he had no choice.
“There is no other way,” he said. “If we don’t have bread to eat how can they read? Survival is more important.”
Workers are paid the equivalent of $4 for every 1,000 bricks they make. An adult working alone can’t make that much in a day, but if the kids help, they can make 1,500 bricks a day.workers said.
According to surveys by Save the Children, from December to June the percentage of households who say they have a child working outside the home increased from 18% to 22%. would suggest that More than 1 million children were working nationwide, Another 22% of children said they were asked to work in the family business or on the farm.
The survey covered more than 1,400 children and more than 1,400 caregivers in seven provinces. He also pointed to the rapid decline of Afghan livelihoods. In June, 77% of households surveyed reported losing half or more of their income over the previous year, up from 61% in December.
Recently it started raining lightly on a kiln, and at first the children jumped with joy, thinking it would be a refreshing drizzle in the summer. Then the wind blew. A gust of dust struck them, covering their faces. The air turned yellow with dust. Some of the kids couldn’t open their eyes, but they kept on working. The rain opened in a rain.
The children were wet. Water and mud was pouring out of one boy, but like the others he said that he could not take shelter without finishing his work. Streams of torrential rain dug trenches in the earth around them.
“we are used to”, Told. Then he said to the other boy: “Hurry, let’s finish it.”
(with info and photos from Associated Press)