03/16/2021, 16.59
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'You freed our children': 45 brick kiln families pay off debt

by Shafique Khokhar

Seven more families will be able to pay off their debt thanks to the generosity of AsiaNews readers. Some 50 families also received food parcels. Now free, Amir and Asima can continue their love story. Muslim businessmen praise the initiative. For one of them, “without your help they would not have made it”.

Faisalabad (AsiaNews) – Asima Bibi (picture 1), a 27-year-old forced to work with her husband in a brick kiln in Kamalpur, is grateful to AsiaNews and its readers for paying the debt that they had contracted with the owner of the kiln where they were force to work. “Our daughter was born when we were slaves, but now she can open her eyes to a world free for us,” Asima said.

Thanks to a fundraiser that began before Christmas, 45 poor families were able to pay off their debt to the owner of the factory where they were forced to work.

To pay off the debt everyone in the family had to work, even the children, who could not go to school.  after learning about their situation, some AsiaNews readers came up with the idea of paying off the debt of these poor workers.

Thanks to the funds raised, seven other families will be able to pay off their debt. Food parcels were also handed out to 50 families last week, all of whom warmly thanked AsiaNews readers for their generous contributions.

Amir Masih, Asima's 28-year-old husband, told AsiaNews how he got into debt. “My family, who had an arranged marriage in mind for me, only allowed me to marry Asima as long as I returned what was spent on the wedding.”

To repay his parents, Amir took out a loan of 70,000 rupees (US$ 446) to the owner of a brick kiln, an amount that grew due to the need to look after their daughter. “From that moment,” he said, “we became slaves waiting to be freed by a Messiah.”

To help her husband, Asima had to work at the factory even when she was pregnant. “It was painful, but I couldn't do otherwise. This is the destiny we chose for ourselves.” Now, however, she sees “the love of the people of God who have given their money to free us”.

AsiaNews' campaign  began with a commitment to donate food and winter clothing to 52 families working in brick factories. Because of the winter season and COVID-19, factories closed and people have not earned any wages for months.

Poverty drives them to borrow from their bosses, making them slaves to this type of work, considered among the lowest in the country, for generations.

After the first donations in December and January, some readers said that they were willing to cover all the debt that the 52 families had contracted with their owners.

This initiative has not only changed the lives of these workers and their families, it has also moved the hearts of some Muslim brick contractors, who saw it as a great gesture of humanity and liberation.

“You have earned a place in Paradise,” said one of them, Abdul Majeed. What has been done for these people is wonderful in his view.

“I have known these families for years and without your help they would not have made it to pay their debts. They were condemned to work here for generations.

“The grace of Almighty God has made them free and now they will have the opportunity to give a better future to their children. May God bless each one of you.”

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See also
More families freed from brick kiln slavery thanks to the AsiaNews campaign (VIDEO)
24/06/2021 15:22
Court orders compensation for two bonded migrants who had a hand chopped off by contractor
30/08/2019 17:37
Enslaved children working in brick kilns in Shanxi and Henan
Modern-day slaves are beaten and buried alive as police looks the other way
Many slave factories still operating


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