Peru — Brick Makers

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Ernesto Bazan, Photographer

© Ernesto Bazan/The Photo Project

Miriam, 13, smoothes off the top of a mud-filled brick mold. Her sister, too young to make bricks, sits on the ground behind Miriam and holds a doll, next to their younger brother.

Around the world, children and their families make bricks out of clay packed into simple molds. The clay is dried, and then baked in a kiln. In three Latin American countries — Peru, Argentina and Ecuador — brick factories are concentrated on the outskirts of large cities, according to a report by the International Labor Organization. Workers are often unskilled immigrants from rural areas. Fresh water and electricity are scarce. Pay is low, while production quotas are high, and so whole families work together. Some efforts, funded by the ILO, are being made in the three countries to modernize brick production, eliminating middle-men between workers and the kilns, and supply social services, especially education. The ILO’s goal is to withdraw children from brick-making work.

Location: Huacipa, Peru