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Humans of New York is the best Facebook there is. I’m fairly certain that everyone I know is already following it; but if you’re not you need to be. Started by Brandon Stanton , he has spent his time photographing and sharing the stories of everyday New Yorkers ; and has also taken trips around the world. The stories range from humorous or uplifting, to sad, and even absolutely heart breaking. Brandon recently went to Pakistan and shared with us the stories of many Pakistani people, to show us the good in a country that is often dismissed as nothing more than a hotbed of evil and terrorism. The stories that affected me most though were those of the brick kiln “ workers .”

I will post links to the personal stories that Brandon has shared, but I wanted to give some of the facts behind the brick kiln slavery practice first, for many who have no idea this is happening. I didn’t know it was going on until Brandon shared the stories.

Apparently, how many people get bonded to slavery is they are desperate. Often a family member is sick and they can’t afford treatment, but there are a range of reasons why these people go to these kiln owners for a small loan. They accept the loan and agree to work for free until the debt is paid. What happens though, is the debt is never paid. When the person who asked for the loan goes to the kiln owner to ask for their release as the debt was paid off, they find there have been ridiculous charges added to the original debt; doubling, tripling, quadrupling what they originally owed. The debtor is then forced back to the kilns to continue working off a debt that will never be paid, for risk of losing their lives or harm coming to their families.

According to an article from Al Jazeera , “ an estimated two million children also work for up to 14 hours a day, six days a week in brickmaking kilns, lacking basic rights and access to social security.” NBC News reports that about four million Pakistani people are bonded into this system of forced labor. Brandon through his efforts with Humans of New York managed to raise $2 million dollars for a Pakistani organization called, the Bonded Labour Liberation Front , so the founder, a woman named Fatima , could use to money to help these humans of Pakistan be released from this slavery.

No words that I can write would ever describe the situation the way that the stories from the enslaved themselves could, so I just want to share their photos and stories. I also want to share the link to the Bonded Labour Liberation Front’s website so that we can all donate more to help these people. We all can only hope that the attention that has been brought to this cause by Brandon’s efforts will result in United Nations action being taken to end this forced labor. Here is the link to the BLLF website . Now a few of the stories. The rest can be found on Humans of New York’s Facebook page:

“My sister’s kidneys were failing. We tried to raise the money to save her. We sold our cattle. We sold our property. We sold everything we had. When we ran out of options, I took a 5,000 rupee loan from the brick kiln. I thought I could pay it back by working for 15 or 20 days. But when I thought it was time to leave, the kiln owners did the accounts. They told me: ‘You lived in our house. You ate our food. You owe 11,000 now. If you have 11,000 rupees, you can go. Otherwise get back to work.’ They worked me harder. I never saw my wages. If I wanted to stop, they beat me. A few months later, my grandfather died. I asked for a few days off to arrange his funeral. ‘You owe 30,000 rupees now,’ they told me. ‘If you have 30,000 rupees, you can leave. Otherwise get back to work.’ Now I owe 350,000 rupees. And my sister died a long time ago. There’s no way out. Soon my debt will pass on to the next generation.” *1,000 rupees = $10 (6 of 7) (Lahore, Pakistan)

“My sister’s kidneys were failing. We tried to raise the money to save her. We sold our cattle. We sold our property. We sold everything we had. When we ran out of options, I took a 5,000 rupee loan from the brick kiln. I thought I could pay it back by working for 15 or 20 days. But when I thought it was time to leave, the kiln owners did the accounts. They told me: ‘You lived in our house. You ate our food. You owe 11,000 now. If you have 11,000 rupees, you can go. Otherwise get back to work.’ They worked me harder. I never saw my wages. If I wanted to stop, they beat me. A few months later, my grandfather died. I asked for a few days off to arrange his funeral. ‘You owe 30,000 rupees now,’ they told me. ‘If you have 30,000 rupees, you can leave. Otherwise get back to work.’ Now I owe 350,000 rupees. And my sister died a long time ago. There’s no way out. Soon my debt will pass on to the next generation.”
*1,000 rupees = $10
(6 of 7)
(Lahore, Pakistan)

“My sister fell ill and her medical bills cost 30,000 rupees. My father wasn’t getting his salary on time, so we had no options. I took a loan from the brick kiln and agreed to work for them until it was paid off. Other members of my family did the same. We thought it would only take three months. But when I went to leave, they told me I owed them 90,000 rupees. I couldn’t believe it. They told me I couldn’t leave. It’s like quicksand. They only pay you 200 rupees per 1000 bricks, and it all goes to them, and the debt keeps growing. We are supposed to work from dawn to dusk for six days a week, but we never get the 7th day off. They tell me I owe them 900,000 rupees now. There is no hope for me. Every year they have a market. The brick kiln owners get together and they sell us to each other. Just ten days ago my entire family was sold for 2.2 million rupees.”

“My sister fell ill and her medical bills cost 30,000 rupees. My father wasn’t getting his salary on time, so we had no options. I took a loan from the brick kiln and agreed to work for them until it was paid off. Other members of my family did the same. We thought it would only take three months. But when I went to leave, they told me I owed them 90,000 rupees. I couldn’t believe it. They told me I couldn’t leave. It’s like quicksand. They only pay you 200 rupees per 1000 bricks, and it all goes to them, and the debt keeps growing. We are supposed to work from dawn to dusk for six days a week, but we never get the 7th day off. They tell me I owe them 900,000 rupees now. There is no hope for me. Every year they have a market. The brick kiln owners get together and they sell us to each other. Just ten days ago my entire family was sold for 2.2 million rupees.”

“I was born into the brick kilns. I started working at the age of 12. The work never ended. We’re expected to make 1,000 bricks per day. We work from 5 AM to dusk. I tried to organize the workers recently to demand fair wages. We held meetings at night, but one of the workers informed on us. The owners called me to the office and beat me. They made the other workers join in. Then they took off all my clothes and tied me to a tree. I begged them not to do it. They left me there for hours. I tried to escape at night. I padlocked my family in the house and I ran into the fields. I came straight to Fatima. Before we could return for my family, the police had helped the owners break into my house. And my daughters were paraded naked in the streets.”

“I was born into the brick kilns. I started working at the age of 12. The work never ended. We’re expected to make 1,000 bricks per day. We work from 5 AM to dusk. I tried to organize the workers recently to demand fair wages. We held meetings at night, but one of the workers informed on us. The owners called me to the office and beat me. They made the other workers join in. Then they took off all my clothes and tied me to a tree. I begged them not to do it. They left me there for hours. I tried to escape at night. I padlocked my family in the house and I ran into the fields. I came straight to Fatima. Before we could return for my family, the police had helped the owners break into my house. And my daughters were paraded naked in the streets.”

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