The burden of debt
Forced to work to pay off dowry debts for her sister, Nasheema, 18, has migrated 15 km with her father, Noor Mohammed, for a season of hard labour at the brick kiln in Nethla, Uttar Pradesh, nearly two hour’s drive from Delhi. Nasheema, along with many other women, makes up to thirteen journeys a day with her horse Raju, pulling loaded carts of unbaked bricks from the moulding site to the firing kiln.
Raju pulls a total of 4,000 bricks a day, helping Nasheema to earn 400 Indian Rupees or about £5.50 a day. Half the money she earns goes into feeding her horse, so progress towards paying off the loan is slow.
“My father took out loans for my elder sister’s dowry - so she could be married into a good family,” says Nasheema, from Baghpat, UP in northern India. “Now I must work to repay this. It’s my dream to earn enough money for my future, so that my father doesn’t have to borrow money from anyone again,” she added.
New kiln, fresh challenges
Nasheema relies on Raju to help her family meet the repayments, so when he was wounded she felt she had no choice but to continue to put him to work, unaware of the impact carrying further heavy loads would have on her horse.
The Brooke recently began working with equine owners at the BK Tayal brick kiln, to raise awareness about injuries and illnesses.
When the veterinary team met Nasheema, they found Raju limping. The wound was cleaned with antiseptic, a tetanus injection given and the wound bandaged. Nasheema was advised to let Raju rest for two days to allow the wound to heal.
“Our horses are our only support - if anything happens to them, we will be ruined. I am so thankful to the Brooke for helping me take care of my horses, so that they can help take care of our lives,” she added.
The Brooke has plans to form an Equine Welfare Group by involving owners in tasks relating to equine health, encouraging them to deposit cash for emergency cases with the amount decided by the group.
Read our news story on International Women's Day