Nadeem and his wife were bonded brick kiln labourers, and parents of five children aged three to ten. Their work was heavy and back-breaking, under the blazing sun.
When Nadeem first began brick-making, ten years ago, he borrowed 42,000 rupees (about £300, $400, €350) from the brick kiln owner. With the passage of time his debt rose to 215,000 rupees (about £1,500, $2,000, €1,800). Many brick kiln workers owe money to their employers, for without borrowing it is almost impossible for them to survive financially during the monsoon months when the heavy rain prevents them making bricks. These debts (on which interest is charged) keep the worker “bonded” to their employer, like a slave, unable to leave and seek another job.
Three years ago, Nadeem and his family were sold by his first employer to another brick kiln owner who treated them very badly. Nadeem’s wife fell ill but the brick kiln owner asked Nadeem to use force to make her continue working.
Then they were sold to yet another brick kiln owner for the cost of their debt – 215,000 rupees (about £1,500, $2,000, €1,800). Nadeem, who is illiterate like his wife, “signed” the agreement with a thumb-print, unaware that the document was committing him and his family to an even worse position. His new owner wanted to have all five children working alongside their parents, to increase the number of bricks produced. So Nadeem could not send them to school. The family could not go to church any longer because the owner insisted they work on Sundays. Until they paid back the ever-growing debt, they were trapped.
Thanks to the generosity of Barnabas Fund supporters, Nadeem and his wife are now free! Their debt has been paid and their legal bondage is at an end. Now they can decide for themselves where to live and what kind of work to do.
Forty to Free
There are many Pakistani Christian brick-kiln workers trapped by their debts, paid a pittance, housed in abominable conditions, without even clean water to drink. A whole family must work together to earn the same as a normal labouring job in Pakistan.
As a first stage, Pakistani church leaders have chosen 40 Christian brick-kiln families who are ready to be freed. Their debts range from 100,000 rupees (£740, $995, €845) to 330,000 rupees (£2,445, $3,280, €2,785). All the families are being helped by other Barnabas-funded projects, like monthly food parcels and schooling for their children. These improve the economic position of the family, in both the short-term and the long-term, so they will not need to borrow money again.
So far, we have received gifts to free Nadeem and six other families. That means 33 are still waiting.
Please help free Christian brick-kiln workers in Pakistan
Will you help us to set free those who are “slaves,” bought and sold like animals?
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