The Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Foundation For Documentary Photography & Film
2014 Photography Laureate – Mohamed Ali Eddin
Project: Life of Quarry Workers
Region/Impact: Worker Exploitation in Minya governorate of Upper Egypt
In the Minya governorate of Upper Egypt, 20,000 workers travel every day to the quarries to earn their living. Working in very hard and dangerous conditions, this environment lacks any safety standards – no masks, no protective suits and of course no medical care.
The workers gather together from their villages each day traveling in rickety trucks to get to the quarries. Typically a truck carries 15 men. The roads are dangerous with many accidents and sadly deaths.
Road accidents are not the only danger they face. Breathing white dusty quarry air for more than ten hours a day, their lungs are affected. The cutter machines and electricity kill tens of workers every year at the Minya quarries. Hundreds of workers have lost legs and arms, some even their lives right in the quarry.
I’ve witnessed children working in the quarries. Most of them left school to help their families. Even these children are not spared of lost arms or legs.
This place and these people inspire me. Listening to them talk about their injuries is shocking. They call 20 stitches a “small wound”. An injury there means amputation.
The Local media in Egypt ignores what happens in the governorates and focus only on Cairo. The people in Cairo know little about these workers and dangers they face.
My project will document the plight of these workers who endure the long hours, deplorable conditions and serious injuries in the limestone quarries to earn a meager living. Focusing on their lives in village homes, over treacherous roads and in the dangerous quarries, my goal is to not only expose the lack of health and safety standards in the quarries, but also to highlight the strong will and spirit of these people.