This is an interview with Alamain, a 13-year-old boy who works in a brick kiln and attends the Bridge Course Centre (BCC) run by NMCS.
1. What is your day like?
I awake up at 6.00 a.m. and go to the kiln to help my parents. From 11.00 a.m. to 1.00 p.m. I am at the BCC. Then after lunch at about 3.00 pm, I again go to help my parents at the brick kiln and by 6.30 pm in the evening I return to the hut within the kiln campus where we live.
I have been enrolled in the school nearby, so nowadays I go to school by 10.00 a.m. and come back by 3.00 p.m. It is difficult for me to attend school regularly, as our family income is very low and sometimes I have to sell peas and nuts in the nearby village and marketplace to make additional money for the family. In the evening I return home and then wait for dinner after which I go to bed.
2. Tell us about your family? What does your father do? Your mother?
My mother is a homemaker and my father is engaged in brick making. I feel sad that I cannot spend time with my two elder brothers, since they stay in Kolkata. They are daily labourers in construction work.
My two brothers, Sahaalam (19 yrs) and Saheb (16 yrs) left school when they were in Stds. IV and VI respectively. Both Sahaalam and Saheb had worked in brick kilns before me. I have two sisters also, Moyana, 10 years old who is studying in Std. III at the Government School. My other sister, Kakuli, is now 22 years and is married. She left school when she was in Std. V. She works in the fields as agricultural labour, since brick making is a seasonal occupation, and is currently closed.
3. How long have you been working? Why did you start working?
I have been working for nearly two years now. There are many members in my family and the owners of the kilns wouldn’t give more rooms on the kiln site, if all of the members were not involved in work.
So I started working as a brick moulder - patai, to support my family and for proper accommodation. Now we have three rooms (small shanties) for our family. The labour contractors and my parents had suggested that I start working.
4. Are there a lot of children like you who work at the brick kiln?
Yes, there are children who come with their parents every year. Most of them are enrolled in the BCC, but sometimes, like me, they also have to work.
5. When you grow up, what would you like to be?
I always wanted to be a Doctor or to work in a Pharmaceutical Company, since that helps many persons.
6. Do your parents want you to work?
Yes, because I add to the family income. If my parents had enough money they would have never asked me to work.
7. Do you fall sick?
Sometimes I suffer from fever. But, I have back pains most of the time.
8. Is it hard working in the brick kiln?
Yes, because in brick kilns, especially during the peak season, I have to work continuously for a long time. We start work at 4.00 a.m. and go on till 5.00 p.m. We work in the scorching heat and also have to face the abusive language and threats from the Munshi and the Managers.
9. Do you have dreams?
My dream is to live in a good house and to travel in a beautiful car.
10. What is wrong if children like you work?
It is wrong to involve children in work because working creates physical pain and children will not be able to attend school and play like other children.
11. Do you want to go to school? Why?
Yes, I like school and the teachers, because in school I can make friends and share many things with them. I can also learn many new things from the teachers. It helps me because then I do not have to tolerate the abusive behaviours of the Munshi and Mangers.
12. When you see all these big buildings, what do you think?
I wonder why the people who live in the big buildings do not allow me to live there. My family and I make the bricks but we never get to live in the buildings made out of these bricks. It makes me happy to see the beauty of the majestic buildings. I also wish to have house like that, therefore I want to study and make it possible to have a house.
Keywords: child labour,