Blood bricks

First published by Nepali Times

A network of social workers, environmentalists, child rights and animal rights advocates who form the BrickClean Network (BCN) have termed traditional bricks ‘Blood Bricks’. They say the industry is one of Nepal’s ‘dirtiest little secrets’ and are lobbying responsible citizens to opt for clean and green bricks.

The kilns exploit the most desperate people, thousands of children mould bricks or work as donkey handlers. “Each time I visit a brick factory I am outraged,” says Pramada Shah, activist with Animal Nepal. “The mules and donkeys are almost always overloaded, underfed, and made to work even when they are sick or pregnant.”

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Beast of Burden

First published in The Kathmandu Post

Lulu, a malnourished working donkey, died last week night at our shelter. She died from colic, a disease that is mostly caused by eating plastic, often fatal in equines. Today, on World Animal Day, I wonder what Lulu’s life must have looked like. What is it like being a common Nepali donkey, employed in one of the country’s countless brick kilns?

The first thing Lulu must have experienced on this earth is dust. Dust marks the lives of working equines in Asia, home of half of the world’s 50 million working donkeys. Nepal’s working equines (horses, donkeys and mules) have never been counted, but 100.000 is a fair guess.

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