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I am Wei.

In this brick factory, I am part of a work/study program. There is much work for us , but little study. We left our schools and homes, and were brought here to make bricks.

A man from the Ministry of Education visited our villiage. He said the work was necessary to pay for schools in our poor region and to help our nation grow. There would be ample time, he said, for sleep, entertainment and sports. He said children under 16 are allowed to work, but only for occupational training and educational purposes. It is the law. The work would not be dangerous or harmful. We would be paid, and could call home every week.

The man from the Ministry must not have said these things to our manager, for here none of these things are true. He is a very hard man, and beats and fines those children who are not quick enough for him. The manager has vicious dogs. To make us work harder, the manager often throws bricks at us. Some of the bricks are hot from the kilns, and a kid gets burned. Some have died from burns they got working on around the brick kilns.

We work no less than twelve hours each day, and often more. We are always tired. Our wages are not paid. We live in small rooms with many other children. The food is bad and scarce, and the air is very dirty. When someone gets sick or hurt, they are locked away and nothing is done for them.

Where is the man from the Ministry?

I want to go home. I had no money there, but I had much more.

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