New Delhi: Life at the brick kilns of Jhajjar in Haryana is especially tough for children of labourers. But thanks to a new initiative by the Don Bosco Foundation, this is fast changing.
Jhajjar in Haryana makes the bricks that build India's capital. But the labourers come from all over India, including Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Rajasthan. "If we could get enough work in Bihar, we wouldn't have come here," says a labourer.
Father Thankachan of the Don Bosco Centre says, "Jhajjar has more than 500 brick kilns. Each kiln has 70 to 90 families. Each family has five to seven children, besides the two parents and they stay in a very congested place.
CNN-IBN took a peek inside the place these labourers call home. And this is what was found. Five to seven people were crammed into a place no larger than an average apartment balcony. They earn about Rs 7,000 a month, most of which is spent on basic expenses. No one goes to school, so no one learns any skills, which means they are stuck in an endless cycle of poverty.
That's set to change. For the past three years, the Don Bosco institute has been organising informal classes for the children of these labourers. While their parents toil at the kiln, the children learn skills that could give them a fresh shot at life.
Father Antony of the Don Bosco Centre says, "Even these children are the children of God. They have to be pushed into the mainstream. We're training them so that they feel that they are no less than anyone. So they have no inferiority complex and contribute to society."
During peak season, 300 to 400 children hang out at this centre, 40 kilometre outside Delhi. They get a break from the drudgery of brick making, besides free mid day meals and medical care and a chance to dream of a better life.
Usually, children who are strong enough are put to work at the kiln. Families make about Rs 650 for every 1,500 bricks they make, so all extra hands are welcome, which means school isn't always a welcome option. But children have their dreams. "I want to become a doctor. I like giving injections and distributing medicines," says a child.