When most Egyptians think of child labor, the image that comes to mind is of a young, dirty-faced mechanic’s apprentice lying under a car to help his mentor. Although the picture may be heartbreaking, those kids could be considered among the luckier child workers compared to the majority of children who work under extreme and dangerous conditions.
The working conditions of child labor in the quarries of Menya are much harder and dangerous, as the children working there have to handle primitive and very dangerous stone cutting machinery. The hazards caused by the blades and defective electric connections occur daily and often lead to death while the dust they inhale develop severe respiratory and pulmonary diseases.
With the huge economic crisis the country is going through, knowing the dangers of such activity, families still send their children to work there as they have no other way to survive.
The children of Menya drop out of school to bring back home less than $15 a week; they work from 4pm to 3am in summer and from 7am to 4pm in winter.
Ali, a kid working in the Menya’s quarries remember "a boy my age came to work here just as I did. He used to put bricks together. One day he just dropped dead."
Official child labor statistics in Egypt vary, but it is estimated that there are between 1.3 and 3 million children workers.