Sobia and her father make a thousand bricks a day between them. They start work at 5.00 a.m. and after they have finished the day’s quota they prepare the clay for the next day’s bricks. Sobia has worked like this since she was a small child. She never went to school because her mother died and Sobia then had to join her father making bricks to support the family.
Sobia and her father together earn £6.75 a day. But their employer only gives them £5.25. He keeps the rest of their wages to pay back a debt of £1,100 which the family owes him. How did they get in debt? Every July and August the monsoon rains mean the brick-making has to stop. No bricks means no money for the families. But they still have to eat. So they take a loan from their employer, who charges them interest and thus ensures they never manage to finish paying him back. Being illiterate, they find it impossible to challenge his figures. When the next monsoon comes round, the family have to borrow from him again.
Trapped like paid slaves
Thousands of Pakistani Christian families are trapped like this. They cannot leave their job because of the debt to their Muslim employer. Some of their debts were originally incurred two or three generations ago. Often called “bonded labourers”, they live in a situation that is like a kind of paid slavery.
Hope of freedom
But Sobia’s family have hope that one day this will change. Sobia’s younger brother goes to school. It is a small and very simple Christian school, supported by Barnabas Aid. Most of the pupils are from Christian brick-kiln families. When one member of a family can read, write and do simple sums, the whole family is transformed.
Shamaun can now count the bricks his father and sister make, check the right figure is entered in the employer’s records, and make sure they are not cheated. He can check the calculations for their debt repayment, and make sure they finally pay it off. Then they will be free.
Set them free!
Please help Barnabas Aid to free these bonded labourers through the priceless gift of education. We support five brick-kiln schools near Lahore, bringing literacy, hope and ultimately freedom to 230 children and their families.
The total cost for all five schools is £8,890 per year. Eight more schools are needed in this locality alone.
Just £3.20 per month covers all costs for one child to attend school
£9 provides each child with their books, pencil, eraser and a bag to put them in
Daily travel and other costs for the ten teachers are £19 a month
One teacher’s monthly salary is £41
If you would like to make a gift, please direct your donation to Support for schools in the Kot Radha Kishen Area 41-1236
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