Brickfield

The mid-day sun is obscured by clouds of black smoke spewed out by the chimneys of brick-klins in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. Tall and unwavering, they are monuments that represents the industry and all that it stands for. There are millions of bricks burned here to serve the rapidly growing demand of urbanization and industrialization of the economy. As new housing, facilities and businesses grow, so does the demand for more bricks. However, the price paid is quiet high -both in terms of human lives and the environment.

The wet earth is molded by hand in to workable shapes that are then boxed and dried to form shapes suitable for baking in the chimneys. It is an human endeavour where the extraction of the soil to the venting of the chimney exhausts are done manually. There is no machine here. Just flesh and bones toiling away to feed the demand of more bricks.

Workers of all sexes and ages work in the brick klins where they are discriminated in their wages. They come from all parts of the country and often stay for months on end, working everyday. Wages tend to start from $4/day and still payment is irregular. For the amount of sweat, blood and tears that are shedded, the injustice is heartbreaking. The work is draining and heavy, the heat and toxic fumes are often cause of health hazards and respiratory problems. Workers are caked in dark mud or red dust. Often, they are housed in square boxes covered in tin just beside the klins. The air is red with dust and children of the laborers live, play, breathe and eat in these conditions. There are little to no regulations enforced for the industry to curb it appetite and improve the lives and conditions of the laborers.

Brickfield
Black and white photographs, 2009.