On the outskirts of Kathmandu, 12-year-old Bibek* wakes early, ready to start work as a load carrier at his local brick factory.
Construction is one of the largest economic sectors in Nepal, employing 250,000 brick workers, many of whom are children. The work is hazardous and brick workers are often bonded by debt to exploitative brokers. More than 50 children work at the same factory as Bibek, many of them illiterate. Life at the factory is all they have ever known and, unless something changes, it’s all they will ever know.
Thankfully for Bibek, change has come, in the form of the Sangsangai programme.
All together now
Sangsangai means ‘together’ and is a project of Tearfund implemented by a local partner. The scheme encourages and equips local churches to respond to the needs of their communities. After praying, one such church decided that they needed to do something about the brick factory children.
The church started a class inside the factory where Bibek and his friends could learn and have fun. Through the classes, parents are also becoming more aware of the importance of providing their children with an education.
A change of perspective
Attitudes towards the church have also been transformed through the project. ‘People thought the church was only for religious conversion,’ explains the Pastor , ‘but through this project they were able to see the love of Christ. It has built a good relationship with the community.’
*Name changed to protect identity