“I couldn’t believe my ears. I wanted to leap with joy!” Sadeeq Masih earned a living making bricks with the help of his wife and his older sons – back-breaking labour, under a sweltering sun, but even together they could not earn quite enough to feed and care for the family of seven. There was not enough money for any of the children to go to school. Sometimes they had to borrow from the brick-kiln owner, who then deducted from their wages to pay the interest on their loan. It got worse and worse. As long as they had the debt they were bonded labourers, tied to the brick-kiln, and unable to leave. “They treated us as slaves,” said Sadeeq.
“My Lord has released us from our debt”
Then Sadeeq heard that Barnabas Fund would pay the family debt and set them all free. It was hard to believe, but finally it happened. “That day was the most miraculous and joyful moment of my and our family’s life,” said Sadeeq, Later he explained to his Muslim supervisor at work, “My Lord has released us from our debt.”
Tears of joy
“I never felt this could be possible. My eyes were filled with tears when I heard my loan is going to be paid off,” said Afzal. He suffers from asthma and had to borrow from his brick-kiln owner to get medical treatment. Afzal also explained how there was never enough food in the home and the brick-kiln owner would talk so rudely to his family because they were bonded labourers. His wife had an accident and could not make bricks any more so their 13-year-old daughter works with her father to support the family.
Afzal’s family is now free, their debt paid off, and also receiving a monthly food parcel from Barnabas so they do not go hungry any more. “Now we feel a sense of confidence and joy, thanks to Barnabas Fund,” said Afzal.
But what will happen next time Afzal needs asthma medication or Sadeeq’s family has an unexpected need? Will they have to borrow from their employers and re-start the whole cycle of debt and bondage? No. the monthly food parcels reduce their basic living costs and interest is no longer deducted from their wages. So they have more income and less expenditure, and they can save a little week by week for when they have an extra need.
Praise God for 287 freed families
Thanks to the generosity of Barnabas Fund supporters, 287 Pakistani Christian families, that is about 1,435 people, who used to be bonded labourers, have been set free in five phases. We are so grateful to all those who have contributed and transformed the lives of these families, lifting their worries, giving them a hope and a future.
The next 100 families …
Phases 6 and 7 will help another 100 families, with debts ranging in size from $583 to $2724. 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
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