Majlispur: A group of seven teenage girls, who toiled as labourers in brick klins as child labourers in North 24 Parganas district, have stitched up a new life for themselves by going into the tailoring business.
"The idea for a tailoring business came to us after we joined a vocational training programme a few months ago," 16-year-old Fazila Khatun, one of the girls, said.
Khatun recalled that her life earlier was limited to mixing soil, making mud balls, moulding, carrying heavy wet bricks for drying and finally putting them into the furnace.
She was one of the 40 girls of Majlispur, which is notorious for using child labour in brick kilns, who were given basic tailoring skills by an international NGO.
After completion of a six-month course, each of them were given sewing machines to begin their lives as entrepreneurs.
Another girl, 17-year-old Taslima Khatun, 17, who also slaved in the klins said they began their entrepreneurship by stitching clothes for local people.
"This helped us polish our skills. Then we slowly started approaching small manufacturing units. They liked our work and so now they give us regular orders," she said.
"Instead of stitching clothes for neighbours we got together and approached a garment manufacturer in Rajarhat who now gives us regular work on contract," Khatun said.
They go to manufacturing units in Rajarhat every week to collect orders for about 500-600 pieces of garments.
"We then go home with the raw materials provided by them and do the stitching according to the design and shape prescribed," she said.
From a monthly earning of around Rs 1000 by working as a `reza` or one who carries brick to the furnace, her income has now increased to Rs 2500.
Adept in stitching all kinds of clothes, they are getting orders for making salwar kameez, frocks and undergarments.
Nearly 100,000 children are believed to be working in over 4000 brick kilns in the state. North 24 Parganas district adjoining Kolkata alone is estimated to have around 240 brick kilns.