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Treating it as an ordinary balloon, a young boy blows a used condom by blowing air into it, outside a battery recycling workshop near Tanki Ghat by river Buriganga on the outskirts of Dhaka in Dhaka district.

 

The environment in and around the workshop is full of carbon dust and other waste. Children play in the factory area until they are tired and ready to sleep. Most children have chest and eyes infection. Environment is so polluted, most children suffers from one or the other kind of infections all the time. Some even have streaks of blood coming out of their noses all the time.

 

There are hundreds of other informal factories and workshops inside and on the outskirts of the city of Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. The industry employs thousands of women and children. All day long women and children break used batteries to get reusable parts and tiny pieces of metal out of them. Once separated, these materials are sent to battery manufacturing factories and workshops that either reuse them or melt them to make other useful materials.

 

While breaking used batteries or even playing, children inhale millions of fine carbon dust particles from the batteries throughout the day. Depending on how much work they do, each of them get between 5-15 Taka per day (US$ 1.00 = Taka 60). It takes a young child 4-12 days to earn just one US dollar.

 

Women and children in these workshops face some of the worst condition of life anywhere in the world. None of the children go to school. Although they work hard and need nutritious food, they hardly eat much. It’s amazing that they still look happy and manage to crack a smile every now and then.

 

Photo by Shehzad Noorani

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Taken on March 28, 2005