My name is Wasim* and I am 14 years old. I work in the leather sector, in the machine operated gloves section. We make gloves and then give them to people who sell them. I am one of four brothers and two of us do the same type of job (working with gloves). My brother cuts the gloves. My mother stays at home and my father works pulling a pushcart of leather from the employers’ place. He works half the day and gets Tk. 100 ($0.90 USD) per journey.
I have been working for three or four years. I studied up to grade 3, but I don’t study anymore because I am in a financial crisis. We do not have food at home, and we have debts of around Tk. 30,000 ($275 USD). We are in debt to lots of different people. I saw all these debts mounting up and left my studies and started work.
I used to feel quite good when I was studying. I used to like the fact that I studied and played with my friends at school. Now, I don’t feel good, I feel like leaving this place. I don’t like working. They shout a lot at work, both the employers and the people at the machine. They scold us and curse us, and they get mad and scold us in a very loud voice. I feel very sad. I do not like the fact that they shout so much, and I don’t feel like working with them. The man at the machine beats me. I told my parents about this, and my father told me that I wouldn’t have to work after some time. But I am still working because of the loans – they are not fully paid, even though the amount has decreased. The amount is now around Tk. 10 thousand ($90 USD).
I feel anxious a lot while turning the products around. There is a pipe and I have to turn the products within the pipe, and then take them out of the pipe again. This is the most painful job to do. I have to put up with a lot. My hands and legs itch, and I have had blotches on my skin while doing this work. One day, my finger went through the machine and got pricked. I put a bandage over it and the employer bought some medicines (costing around Tk. 100/ $1 USD), and I took those. I didn’t want to work anymore that day, but they were forcing me to. They told me to cut for a little while longer, so I did a little more work and then went back home. And then they marked me as absent.
My salary is Tk. 2,000 ($18 USD). I give it to my father and mother, and they just give Tk. 10-20 (less than $0.50 USD) to get something to eat with.
I cannot play or talk with my friends now; I have to stay at work the whole day from 8 am to 8 pm. Then I go back home and either go to the rooftop or lie down inside. I cannot play because of the pressure of work. I used to play cricket in the field. I used to feel very good. We used to play all together and run around the field with a bat and ball. I like Fridays the most as I can talk and play with my friends. I feel very good when I’m playing with my friends and going to the field and roaming around. My friends are studying, and I am the only one working. I feel like studying instead of working during these times.
I wanted to finish my studies and join the armed forces. I couldn’t, that’s it. My dream is to help people. The goal is that everyone should stay well, that’s it. I like to help the poor – to take care of the beggars because I can eat, but they cannot.
I have to work now because of the loans. My parents didn’t put me to work. One day I was sitting at home when my employer came to get my father. When he saw me, he said, ‘he is just sitting around, so why don’t you put him to work as well?’. Then my employer put me to work. I was sitting there and then he took me somewhere. They said what is the point of sitting at home, it’s better if you work.
Everyone said this is a good place to work, and that everyone is doing well here.
I like to eat rice the most. I like eating rice with fish curry or anything like that. I also like to eat guava and all these sorts of things. I have been eating these for a long time. But I cannot eat them now because of work. I cannot go out; they do not let me. They give me a one-hour break to have lunch and then I have to go back to work.
*All names have been changed