The Haze: Teens paid $13 to help save village from blaze

The Haze: Teens paid $13 to help save village from blaze

RIAU - Given their age, they are unlikely to have heard the classic James Taylor hit, Fire and Rain. But they are living some of the lyrics, albeit in a painful way.

In Bangko, about 200km north of Pekanbaru, we chanced upon three teenagers taking turns dousing flames on a plantation with a hose pumping water from a river, using a portable generator.

They are not trained firefighters but they toiled ceaselessly under the blazing sun. They volunteered, they told us.

For eight hours a day seven days a week, they have, in a twist to the lyrics, "seen fire, they've seen pain".

All for the price of what Singapore smokers would pay for a pack of cigarettes: Rp100,000 (S$13) for a day's work.

Sixteen-year-old Johanis, who goes by one name, said in Bahasa Indonesia: "The job isn't dangerous... we are just doing our part to kill the fires near our village. One of our neighbours working with a big company recruited us and we said yes."

He does not know which company hired them, he added.

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