Work, Climate and Donkeys

For donkeys as well as people, the brick kilns in India are dangerous and unhealthy places to work – but unemployment is worse.

The RAJ brick kiln in Rajakhera near Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India.

At the RAJ kiln near Agra, accommodation for donkeys and their owners lies empty. Unseasonal rains have waterlogged the brick kilns and there’s no work for them here.

Back in the home village of Madhupur, 16-year old Archang wakes early to begin looking after the unemployed men of her family.

The family have to feed themselves and their donkeys, whether or not they’re earning.

Families who also own a cart can occasionally earn some money hauling a load.

But most of the men and their animals will be out of work until the kilns dry out again.

Climate change makes life more precarious.

Animal traction

In the UK animal traction and haulage are things of the past – relegated to the heritage industry. In India draft animals play a key role in the modern economy. Aside from their use in agriculture, donkeys and mules are essential to the construction industry. The livelihoods of many thousands of marginalised families are reliant on the welfare and efficient functioning of their teams of donkeys and mules. These photo stories take a look at this industry.

 

Arjun, brick kiln boy

This is Arjun, he is a 12 year old boy working as a donkey driver in the MA Ambabpur brick kiln near Ahmedabad in Gujarat, India. This story will tell you about how he spends his day.

 

Continue reading “Arjun, brick kiln boy”

Donkey Cam

Donkeys have a blind spot immediately in front of them, but can see right round to their hind legs – though not behind their head.

Simply mounting a wide angle camera on a donkey’s head won’t tell us how a donkey really ‘sees’ the world. But it can tell us something about its working life. Its movements, its height, the rhythm of its work, how it directs its attention and perhaps how it relates to people and other donkeys.

This donkey shot 2,700 photographs over a 45 minute period as it went about its repetitive work at a brick kiln in Gujarat, India. This selection of its work will tell you as much about what I think makes an interesting photograph as it does about donkey consciousness. But that would apply if I had shot them myself.

 

With thanks to the donkey with the camera