People of all generations gather around Masih as he parks his motorcycle by freshly molded bricks laid out in the sun to dry. The bricks are as uniform as if they had come off an assembly line, testimony to the vast number produced by the same hands – 750 bricks a day, 210,000 a year. All generations are enlisted to make as many bricks as possible in the hope that their family debt can be paid off. That includes the children, none of whom have learn to read or have gone to school for any length of time. They work without pay.
The families pictured above have debts averaging $1,800 (1 ½ year’s wages) This is after two mothers in the photo have sold kidneys for $1,500 each. These are bonded labourers. Many are also Christian by name. Masih has become their shepherd and advocate. He rides to numerous kilns in the area to care for, counsel and teach the people. He encourages them not to convert to Islam just in order to have their debts forgiven. Masih and his ministry would love to see these families regain their dignity and liberty and have their children educated and given an opportunity to break out of generational slavery.
Debt-bondage, restrictions on freedom of movement, physical abuse, sexual harassment including rape, low wages, and a lack of medical and educational facilities are endemic in the brick making industry. PI Canada works with our partner ministry in Pakistan toward the emancipation of bonded labourers.