Born to work
No one has the time to listen to these unfortunate children who are mostly unseen humans. I always wanted to deliver their voices to all of you and show you their hidden pain and anguish. I tell their stories, depict their emotions, and steal their sorrows into my frames… If any one of you spends even one second in a thought to help them or even to pray for them, this in itself, is the reward of all my hard work.
If these stories ever touch your hearts, please feel free to share them. Even your help alone can awaken other people to bring their hands to these lost souls…
Sharing 10 real life stories of unfortunate child labourers who were born to work. Feel your heart melt…
Featured first on my Facebook page: GMB Akash
No, I don’t go to school nowadays. I had to choose between school and food for feeding my mother and little brothers. My father died last year in this same factory from a heat stroke when he was melting iron in the fire place. In this intolerable heat no one can work if they are not accustomed to it. He was a very strong person and was used to working in the heat. He used to work a lot for us. No one believed he could die here from this heat. After my father’s death I got my father’s job here. I use the same hammer and the same machine but I don’t feel strong like him. I feel very tired, sleepy and hungry. I miss going to school, I miss playing with my friends I miss swimming in the nearby river. My father used to buy me colorful ice cream when we used to feel hot. I miss eating ice cream every minute nowadays when it feels hot like hell here. I have one uncle who buys me ice cream sometimes and helps me in my work when I can’t do anything. I want to become like him. I want to reduce people’s misery because my ice cream uncle always says “we need each other.”
We come to work at 7 am. Because of working continually, we do not usually notice when it becomes dark outside. We work in darkness, under the yellow lightbulb. Sunlight does not enter our factory. Sometimes when the electricity goes out, we can go outside, but now we do not like to play anymore. We feel tired. Telling you the truth, we become very hungry at 3 pm, but rice is expensive. Our income is 1000 taka per month; how can we spend any for rice? We enjoy this free bread at lunch time; when you are hungry everything is delicious. We do not feel full after having it though. But after returning home in the late evening, mother will give us yummy hot rice with mashed potatoes! It’s good for poor people to eat once a day. Please take a piece of bread sir, it is not that bad.
My father died in a road accident 6 years ago which left us on the street. For several days we ate nothing. We had no money and no rice at our home. We could not pay the rent of our one room house. My mother then started working in this brick breaking factory after only a few days of my father’s death. She was not even physically and mentally ready after losing my father. Her eyes were still wet for her loving husband. I saw her crying every night holding my younger brother.
We had nobody else. My father and mother had a love marriage so their families did not accept them. They came to Dhaka in order to survive and my father started riding a rickshaw. But after my father died, my mother alone could not earn enough money, even when she worked from early morning to evening. I saw how she suffered every evening with her body pain. I could not stand to see her struggle alone and I started working with my mother when I was only 6 years old.
My mother cried loudly holding me on her chest the first day I went to work beside her. She never wanted to take me with her to work there. My father always had a dream to send me and my younger brother to school.
I could hardly break 30 bricks a day and could only earn 30 taka on the first day. But now I can break up to 125 bricks and earn 125 taka per day. With my income, I am able to continue to pay for my younger brother Rana’s education. He is a very good student and this year he came second in his class.
For the last 6 months I have been working extra hours to earn more money. Two days ago with this money I bought a new bicycle for my brother, so he can go to his new class and tuition with the bicycle. Before that he used to walk a long distance and he got tired. My brother said when he grows up, he will get a job and he will never let me work here anymore.
_Rotna and her mother Rina Akter
My mother died a week ago. I do not have her photograph. She wanted to take picture many times but for taking picture you need money. If you come here a week ago I could take you home to my mother. She won’t let you come back without having lunch with us. Whenever someone came to visit us she always had given her portion of food. My mother had three pet cats and only me. No one went to her since she was sick. Every day after returning from work my father asked her why she was not dying. I have seen her dying every day since I was a child. I have a step mother and two step sisters. But my mother taught me to love them though they hated us always. The day my mother died I did not cry. I was happy, happy by looking at her face because she was smiling at me. My mother often used to say when I cry she feels ache in her heart, so I cannot cry; I cannot let my mother soul suffer a bit
After my father died in a road accident, it was impossible for our mother to manage three meals a day for us. She started working as a maid but still it was not enough money for us to survive.
One day my mother brought me to this factory for work but the owner did not want to take any more children into his factory. But my mother sat with me the whole day outside of the factory for this job forme and kept requesting the owner for a chance to live. Then he gave me this job six months ago.
In the beginning it was very hard for me to work the whole day with these big machines. Sometimes I had problems with this machine noise and I had problems breathing because of the dust all the time. I also had many accidents. A few days ago my hand went inside the machine and I was seriously injured. Today I am back to work again. I cannot just sit at home, I have to help my mother.
Now I am working as an apprentice. I get three meals a day here for my work. After a few months I will get 1500 taka per month. I am eagerly waiting for that day. I want to help my mother. She works so hard from early morning to late at night for her three children. I want to reduce my mother’s burden of poverty.
There is a Shakib who is the caption of our cricket team and he is a favourite player. There is another Shakib who is a superstar of our Bangla films. My name is also Shakib but I work in a factory from early morning to late evening to earn 500 taka a week for my family.
I have been working in this factory for the last five months. During this period of time I have been working as a trainee, so I don’t receive any salary. The owner of the factory only gives me 500 taka per month for food to eat three times a day.
I don’t have a father; my mother works as a maid and she cannot run our family alone. That is why my mother sent me to work. When I grow up, I will start my own factory. For that I am working attentively to learn this job
During the winter it’s very difficult for us to work in this underwater stone mine. Its takes an ability to hold one’s breath a very long time to go down into deep cold water and collect these heavy stones and come back. Sometimes it’s harder because the stones are heavier than I am. Oftentimes, I can’t even breathe when I enter the water as it is so cold that it will freeze your body in just a few minutes. But we are accustomed to that now! I don’t know how I have been managing for the last 40 days working in this area.
There are many children who are working in this industry. This is the only job here for poor people like me. Thousands of men women and little children are working day into night.
I never thought I could do this work when I first came with my neighbour. For the first few days, I only collected a meager amount of stones and earned only a little money. They pay for every stone you bring from the deep cold water.
Now I have learned one important thing in my life: “Poverty teaches you so many things and makes you so strong that you can do anything when you have a hungry stomach.”
Will you beat me if I tell you the truth? Actually, I am a potato thief. My mother has a high fever so she can’t work. My father had a second marriage and then threw my mother and me away from our house. My father had beaten up my mother so badly that she cannot move properly any more. We somehow managed to sit on the roof of the train and came to Dhaka five days ago. We sleep on the footpath. From morning to afternoon I try to steal potatoes. If I manage to steal some potatoes or vegetables then I can sell them in the bazaar and get 50 taka to buy food for us. From yesterday afternoon till this evening, we haven’t eaten anything. I still cannot steal anything today. I am very hungry
I always feel hungry; all the time I only think about some white rice. I only feel less hungry when I am busy at work thinking I have to earn a living and feed four mouths. The last six months my father has not been able to work anymore because he lost his hand while he was working at the mill. He was the only earning person for the four of us.
After that accident I had to leave my school and join this work for feeding myself and my family. My mother wanted to go begging but my father did not allow it. He said “I will die before eating the rice from begging”. I have one sister she feels hungrier than I do nowadays. She always wants to hear stories from me about food. Last night, when she wanted some rice from my mother, my mother replied to her; “Girls should not ask for rice in this way”. I don’t know what the 5-year-old girl understood but she went to sleep eating nothing. She did not ask for food from my mother again.
I understand how hunger feels; I could not do anything without crying silently. The whole night I couldn’t sleep because my stomach was grumbling for some rice too. At dawn for some moments while I fell asleep, I remember I was dreaming about a bowl of rice that I was eating so eagerly. For the last two days our work has been closed so I could not earn anything nor buy any food for my family. Today I am working rapidly. I did not even take a break at lunch time so that I could earn a few more coins to buy more rice and maybe some potatoes. I promised my sister this morning that we will eat a lot of rice tonight. She might be waiting for me the whole day. I am also waiting to finish my work and go home. My father used to say; if you want to eat and earn a living, you have to give your sweat and your blood. He has given a lot of blood for feeding us. Now I am trying to give all my sweat to feed them at least once a day.
Always the same heartless scenario; working children suffering and my own reaction of inner emptiness that freezes my finger preventing contact with the shutter button. But even with all those sorrowful expressions followed by smiles when they give a look, these courageous children push me to overcome anything and then my camera clicks never stop.
– GMB Akash