Life Story: Nadeem
Nadeem is a 9 year old boy who works as an apprentice weaver for a wealthy man named Sadique. Nadeem’s father is Mirza, a 30 year old brick worker. Sadique is describing the “advantages” his son will “enjoy” in his job position. “I’ve admired your boy for several months,” Sadique says. “Nadeem is bright and ambitious. He will learn far more practical skills in six months at the loom than he would in six years of school. He will be taught by experienced craftsmen, and his pay will rise as his skills improve. Have no doubt, your son will be thankful for the opportunity you have given him, and the Lord will bless you for looking so well after your own.”
Sadique most aggressively hires 7-10 year old children because they are “the most energetic and dexterous at this stage of development and are very obedient.” Sadique says that the boys would work all day and night if he asked. But, when pressed, Sadique says that he hires them first and foremost because he can save a lot of money. Three boys who produce first class rugs would receive the same salary as a second-class adult weaver. The low cost of his labor gives Sadique a significant edge over all of his competitors in countries where child labor laws are enforced. They greatly undersell their competitors, and, not surprisingly, American and European consumers are attracted to low price, yet high quality goods, not knowing of the children who slaved away making them. Whatever reluctance Mirza currently has are greatly overshadowed by his poverty, which is extreme and worsening. He supports a family of five by working at a kiln nearby, molding bricks by hand for around 80 hours a week. Many families in similar conditions are forced to give their children up to manufacturers like Sadique for as little as $15 US. Poverty is ruling the children’s lives. They are thrown into an endless cycle of hard manual labor. Once the child is put into this cycle, the family usually cannot raise enough money to buy the child back, or the child never gets an education or even a payment to go do something else later on in his/her life.