Bricks and wood are the dominant building materials around Bhaktapur and the surrounding towns, including Kathmandu. Bricks are made by hand. It is hard, labour intensive work, involving the whole family. The conditions of work are unpleasant – most work in the open, in unsheltered areas – unprotected from the warm sun.
The bricks are fired in kilns which belch out a pall of smoke across the valley, often obliterating majestic views of the mountains.
All of the burden of the work could be eased with the use of tractors and mechanisation – but the dilemma in this most poor of countries is – what happens to the workers? We were told that brick workers earn between 25 and 50 Nepalese Rupees per day – at the time of writing, the exchange rate is 87 NPR to the $A, and 100 NPR to the $US. Do the maths!
More and more we are seeing the effects of poor education and how this gridlocks a country and its people in a cycle of poverty.