James and Humaira earned a living making bricks – back-breaking labour, under a sweltering sun, but together they could earn enough to feed and care for their two toddlers. Then Humaira fell sick. There was no spare money to pay for her medical care, so James borrowed from the brick-kiln owner, who began deducting money from James’s meagre wages to pay the interest on his loan. Sadly, Humaira died. “I couldn’t pay back the amount in full,” said James, who was now a bonded labourer, legally tied to the brick kiln because of his debt. Unable to leave, and taking home a reduced wage that was barely enough to survive, James was effectively a slave.
Trapped in a quagmire
As the children got older they began to help James with the brick-making. It was impossible for them to go to school – they had to work to try to pay off the family debt. Sometimes they or James himself were ill and then he would have to borrow more from the brick kiln owners. His debt kept rising. “We were trapped in a quagmire,” said James, referring to a type of heavy mud he knew all too well from his brick-making work.
“We never imagined we could be free!”
Then Barnabas Fund supporters paid off his debt, legal processes were completed, and James found himself and his children free! “We have been taken out of the quagmire,” he exclaimed to Barnabas Fund, with a shining face that radiated peace and joy. “We had never imagined that we could be free!” His daughter (10) and son (9) will soon be going to school for the first time in their lives. As for James, now receiving his full wages without deductions, he is looking forward to being able to donate to a revolving loan fund that his local church group will use to help other bonded labourers to be set free.
But what will happen next time one of this little family falls sick? Will James have to borrow from his employer and re-start the whole cycle of debt and bondage? No. James and the children are now receiving a monthly food parcel from Barnabas Fund. So their basic living costs are reduced, and James will have funds to pay for unexpected extras like medicines and visits to the doctor.
Phase 1 completed
James was one of the 40 families in Phase 1 of Barnabas Fund’s project to set free Christian brick-kiln workers. Praise God, we have now received enough donations to free them all! Thank you to all those who have contributed and transformed the lives of all these families, lifting their worries, giving them a hope and a future. Like James, they are all receiving food parcels, to make sure they cannot fall into debt again.
Phase 2 needs you
We are starting the second phase of the project, to free another 40 families. The debts vary in size, but many are in the range £1500 ($2,000; 1,800) to £2000 ($2625; €2225).
Will you help us free more Christian brick-kiln workers who live like slaves?
If you would like a photo and names of the family you have helped to free, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to make a gift, please direct your donation to Pakistani Christian Brick Kiln Workers 41-1356Donate
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