February 2019 Update !!!
Rahul now working with me, Jon, for 2 months. We are busy. We have visited dozens of brick kilns to see working conditions, speak with workers and owners, and see the small number of brick kiln schools which are working here and there at kilns outside Kolkata. We have our first signatory of the PLEDGE to buy bricks only from Child Labour Free sources. We salute the small Kolkata based NGO : FOKE - Friends of Kolkata Elderly, the first to sign. Conversations are going on with others. We may request you to lobby them to sign the pledge. We are in discussion with a Brick Kiln Owners Association at Malancha after requesting them to sign a PLEDGE not to employ children.
We are actively helping several local NGOs to seek funds to run their brick kiln schools.
Rahul attended and spoke at a National Level conference in Lucknow which covered many aspects of the brick industry. He went there to represent and speak for the children. We will keep you posted about developments.
People who have donated to the campaign will receive our emailed February 2019 Newsletter. Please share this.
Good News! A person has been appointed as 'Advocate for Migrant Children in Brick Kilns'. This is Mr. Rahul Das, known to me personally as a person of integrity and original thinking. He acted as personal assistant / secretary to Sr Cyril for several years until recently. Sr Cyril is the former Principal of Loreto School Sealdah who first funded and supported the brickfield Schools programme in 2008.
Rahul will start work officially from 1st December 2018. Due to other committments he will work 3 days weekly. This means that we can select another person, also part time initially, to work with Rahul starting in the new year.
We have a busy programme of brick kiln visits and information gathering over the next few weeks. I will be working with Rahul until I return to UK in March 2019.
We have a useful contact following a meeting with an NGO on the other side of India working in Gujarat and Rajasthan, the Centre for Labor Research and Action. Brick Kiln conditions there are the same as on our patch in West Bengal. There is a lot of work to be done.
We are still over £UK2,000 short of our target of £UK6,000. Kindly forward this appeal to a wider circle of acquaintances in the hope that we can move toward the target.
NB. It is likely that we will request you to join 'actions' aimed to get institutions signed up for 'Child Labour Free Bricks'. Nothing works like publicity - good / bad.
In Solidarity, JON, 27/11/2018
This appeal has now raised over £UK.3,700 towards its target of £UK6,000 to fund the Child Labour Free Bricks campaign. Thank you to all generous donors. The money raised so far is sufficient for work to be started.
I need to explain to you how the money will be withdrawn from GoFundMe and spent in India.
Funds will be transferred from GoFundMe to an account in my name in the Co-op Bank (UK) which I have opened for this purpose. This account will be used for no other work.
I have agreed with a small registered NGO (charity) in India that the funds will be channelled through their account. They are registered to receive foreign donations.
The name of the NGO is long : Howrah Danesh Sheik Lane Navaday Seva Niketan. It is based in Howrah, the twin city of Kolkata (Calcutta). Its secretary is Mr. Bimal Paul. I have known this NGO for 7 years and have worked with them on 2 other projects. The 2 small village schools I support known as Dhrubotara receive their funds through the NGO.
The worker we employ for the Child Labour Free Bricks campaign will be employed by the NGO. I will be closely involved in the selection and management of the worker and will approve all payments. The NGO has a tiny office and its overheads are low. It will receive a small fee towards office and accounting costs.
The NGO will not receive a large amount of money up front. I will arrange bi-monthly payments from the UK account to the NGO as work progresses. I anticipate that more than half the budget will pay the worker's salary, the rest will be spent for communications, travel, admin, publicity etc. Donors to the project will get updates from me, and an account at the end of the first year of work.
2 qualified and experienced persons have already expressed a wish to be considered for this post. Other applications will be invited.
The worker will promote 'Child Labour Free Bricks' and sign up institutions and corporates to buy these bricks in Kolkata, India. They will spend much time visiting brick kilns to meet owners and workers with a view to removing children from brick production and promoting enrollment of children in education.
At present children work at almost all the 30,000+ brick kilns in India.
Bricks are made by impoverished migrant workers living in medieval conditions. Migrant children do not go to school, they make bricks. We have one brick kiln owner near Kolkata who has agreed not to employ children. Others will follow if we create a brand and a market for their bricks. It can be done. Change is coming to the brick kilns.
I know, I have run open air schools for brick kiln children near Kolkata for 10 years. Migrant workers from the poorest districts in India face a long, hard struggle to survive, improve their conditions and educate their kids. When children are prevented from working, adult wages will slowly rise .Families will seek to educate their children. Please stand with them.
Our worker will be appointed in late 2018 and start work immediately. If we make progress in 12 months we'll seek funds to continue. Contact me through this site to keep in touch and get answers to questions.
(I'm a UK teacher who has worked in education projects near Kolkata for 25 years.)
Please look at the video, it's only 3 minutes.... Thanks, JON
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