Visit to the Kilns

With our EBC team all back home with their families….I’m sure they are sharing many stories of their adventure. Life for me (Linda) is back to the daily wake up calls from the neighboring Swayhambu monks drumming and blowing horns for morning prayers as well as endless meetings, emailing and catching up with as many friends as possible for a gorkha beer….it can’t be all work and no pleasure!

As many know, Umbrella Australia started a program ‘Women of the Kilns’ in partnership with EDSO (partnering with the Global Fairness Initiative). This came about through being contacted by GFI Washington and visiting their programs which primarily focus on the fair work conditions of workers and education of children in brick kiln factories here in Nepal.

Did you know there are currently 32,000 children under the age of 16 working in 1294 kilns in Nepal. GFI have to date set up 40 bridging schools for these children which is giving the opportunity for these kids to attend school whilst their parents are working the daily grind of bonded labour….this means a chance to have an education and a future, breaking the generational practice of bonded labour.

Whilst visiting the kilns last year we made the decision to not only support the kids with our student sponsorship program but also give their mothers the opportunity of health & hygiene education through our international license with Days for Girls International.

Last Tuesday, our trainer Pramila, Sushil Babu Chetri (photographer and filmmaker extraordinaire) and I spent the day in the heat of the Terrai delivering a program at three kiln factories to 196 women. The heat was unbelievable and it’s difficult to comprehend how these families exist working 16/17 hours a day in kiln ovens in constant 40+ heat, carrying and making 1000 bricks a day. They are the forgotten people and the injustices they are currently experiencing so need to be highlighted.

Pramila, did her usual and gained the trust and interest of the women who attended the program. These women are experiencing many pregnancies due to the lack of availability to contraception, one particular 19 year old had 5 children! Another lady 8 months pregnant, still working and experiencing a lot of pain….had little choice but to work. With limited access to medical services and using dirty cloth every month when menstruating the program is very much needed in these areas, as simple hygiene practices can save a life.

Sushil has captioned many photos which will be updated soon on our website. For now here are some of my less professional photos. We thank our EDSO for their wonderful organizing, our supporters who helped us get menstruation kits and health training to the women as well as education support for the children.

If you want to be part of the program and contribute to these women and children check out current projects on the website: ‘Women of the Kilns health & hygiene’ & ‘Children of the kilns education program’.


Linda Harwood