Saturday, January 5, 2008

Balad ruz Brick Factory 5 by 15 kilometers (central works, the whole thing was larger)

These donkey carts were used to take the bricks, dirt dug from the ground and mashed while moist through a machine into brick shape, to the kilns. They were first stacked in piles outside then the fired bricks removed and loaded onto trucks (by hand of course) and then laoded into the kiln. The donkeys hauled the cart loads continuosly in a meandering circle from the machine. What you see here is someones house or maybe an office as the homes were generally worse looking than this structure. This is A-65 A/1/278th RCT XOs vehicle aka know as always finding trouble, or at least trying to. The Klika photo above of the family walking over brick bats shows exactly what brick bats are, broken bricks.
Russell Klika uses flickr to post some of his work/photos

There was another three times as massive brick factory outside of Bagdad (Narwhan/Narwan)and below the west side of Balad ruz about 35-50 klicks.
We set off for the brick factories, 7 km away. As we approached we could see them in the distance - a long line of smoke pumping chimneys, grey black on the horizon - standing up in the otherwise empty desert. When the wind direction changes CO and CO2 are blown into Al Nahrwan - the residents get ill and stay indoors until the wind changes back. As we got closer we could see the ugliness of the factories in all its glory, like something from our own industrial revolution - the dust was thick and the smell revolting. We drove round the brick yard of the first factory - here were 1000's of neatly stacked bricks. We got out of the car - the chemical smell was unbearable. Women were working here in the yard, covered in heavy black clothing from head to toe, including their faces - not for religious reasons, but as some sort of 'protection' against their working conditions - and in this heat too. There were lots of donkeys here too. They pull carts laden with bricks and suffered just like the people - working in the heat, the dust, the smoke and pulling loads far too heavy and being beaten while they did it - by the donkey children (who know no better) with bits of plastic water pipes. There were so many little children here working the donkeys in the heat and dust. They were happy and overjoyed to see us (something different in their lives) and formed a tight and enthusiastic crowd around us.
There are no schools or hospitals here - just work and a little brick house. The children earn 2000 - 5000 dinar a week (80 pence - 2 pounds) for 66 - 72 hours - usually from 6 am - 6 pm. The machine men are the highest paid workers - they earn 7000 dinar a day (less than 3 pounds) for 15 hours work from 3 am - 6 pm! That equates to 18 pounds a week for 90 hours work. The bricks are sold for 430,000 dinar (175 pounds) for 5000 bricks. The factory owners get rich off this near slave labour - they can earn more than 50 - 60 million dinar a season (20 -25,000 pounds).
All I know is GI Joe has to watch these bastards make a fortune off the poorest of the Iraqis and watch realizing a PFC gets less than $180/day and that is about what contractors get per soldier for feeding us and doing our laundry, it pisses you off once a few guys get killed. People in these countries are really abused and what is funny they hate us for it apparently, go figure.