India: Bringing hope to children in brick kilns
The brick kiln we went to today in Boalghata was twice the size as the one in Chowhata.
The first thing I saw as we entered was the declaration that the brick kiln is child labour free – a huge achievement.
I saw another purpose-built Bridge Course Centre – a Save the Children-run centre to bridge the education gap for children whose parents work in the kilns.
It was such a delight to see children being able to learn and play regardless of the brutal environment.
A better place for children
The children eat their meals of hotch potch and carry on with lessons while we walk in the scorching sun around the kiln.
We notice that the men keeping the furnace alight are wearing wooden-soled sandals, as they are working with the burning coal not far beneath their feet.
We met with some of the brick kiln owners and their pride in making their kilns better places for children was clear to see.
They spoke openly of how the productivity of the kiln had increased now their employees children were being cared for, allowing their parents to work.
Learning skills for life
We arrived at the local government school at lunchtime with hotch potch being served again. It didn’t take long for the children to finish their food and get back onto the mats that represent their classrooms.
Three ‘classrooms’ share one room of the school but this didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the teachers or the children.
Many of the children had recently worked in the brick kiln and been taught in the Bridge Course Centre.
Books not bricks
Our final stop for the day was a Vocational Training Centre, where children from the brick kilns are being taught tailoring and motorbike repair.
Children are learning skills that could give them a future outside of the kilns, thanks to Save the Children, our local partner and the support we receive from Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals.