Having not lasted the full month, he was sent back to Nepal unpaid.Som says that in cases like Bijaya’s, where a 5 debt could take months to pay off, there are few other options but to turn to loan sharks.
The scant paid work they could find brought in less than $2 a day.
“When we couldn’t find work that paid us cash we would work for grain,” says Manika from the cramped apartment room on the edge of Kathmandu that she and her two children now share with three distant relatives.
It wasn’t even that he was forced to share a two-room apartment with 13 others, or that sleep was taken in revolving shifts with the colleague who worked daytimes and slipped into Bijaya’s bed in the evening as he left for his night shift.
Instead, while operating a dishwasher, a shard of metal broke off and dug itself deep into the index finger of his left hand, rendering him unable to work.
Stories like Manika’s might give pause to the hordes of young men pouring into agency offices in Kathmandu each day, were it not for the fact that their choices here are almost uniquely limited.
Nepal is among the world’s poorest countries, and its agricultural sector, one of the few routes to income for people like Manika and Gyan, grew by only 1.3 percent last year.And all around them are construction sites where foundations are being laid for endless further growth.But on the ground there, dwarfed by the cranes and skyscrapers their predecessors built, tens of thousands of workers from backwater villages in Nepal toil from morning to evening, laying brick and metal for soon-to-be hotels, shopping centers and World Cup stadiums.If the heat doesn’t wear down the workers, then attacks by employers can.Som Prasad Lamichhane, general secretary of the PNCC, met with two Nepalese girls late last year who said they had been beaten every day by their Qatari employer.They can charge interest rates of more than 40 percent, and prey on injured workers and the families of those who have died abroad.