After Nepal’s Earthquake, A Push To Rebuild Without Child Labor

May 12, 2017

PBS NewsHour presents a special piece on labor practices in South Asian brick kilns. It features Better Brick Nepal which is a project in partnership with The Global Fairness Initiative to eradicate child, forced and bonded labor.

This article is by Michael Holtz and was originally published on PBS News Hour on June 8, 2016.

On a cool spring day last year, Dorje Lama was playing soccer at the brick kiln where he worked when the ground began to shake. It turned out to be a 7.8 magnitude earthquake, one of the worst in Nepal’s history, which would claim the lives of 9,000 people and lurch Kathmandu 10 feet south.

The powerful tremor that stuck on April 25, 2015, forced hundreds of brick kilns across Nepal to shut down, including the one Dorje had labored at since he ran away from family some three years earlier. Destitute and homeless, the 12-year-old boy fled with what few belongings he could salvage and made his way 230 miles west to the Indian border town of Rupaidiha.

Dorje wandered the streets for several days before meeting Ali Hasan, the son of a man who ran a mule train. Claiming he was overwrought by Dorje’s story, Mr. Hasan convinced his father to take him in. “He is like a brother to me now,” Hasan says.

Hasan and his father brought Dorje back to Nepal – along with 14 older boys and 44 mules – at the start of this year’s brickmaking season. They had been hired to transport bricks at another kiln near Kathmandu. Dorje’s job would be to cook and help load bricks onto the mules for up to 11 hours a day – and less than 20 cents an hour. It was as if the quake had never uprooted him from the life he knew well.

Read rest of article on PBS News Hour