Bricks are still made by hand in Pakistan — just as they were in Britain in the 19th century — and those who work in the brick fields are little better than slaves to hard labour. Many of them are Christians and among the poorest of the poor.
Brick kiln labourers work long hours in back-breaking, dangerous conditions. Whole families — even small children — work all day to make bricks by hand. From before dawn and in the blistering heat of the sun they then stack the bricks to be baked in huge mud ovens. If they manage to make 1,000 bricks a day they receive about £2 / $3. Demeaning work for pitiful rewards.
As bricks cannot be made during the rainy season, most workers are deep in debt to the manager, who is eager to advance them small loans that bind them to the kiln for life. It is a cruel slavery from which they can never escape. “If I could pay my debt,” said one worker, “I would run away from here.” To escape is to invite swift and sometimes violent revenge from the kiln owner.
Such degradation and absolute poverty is hard for us to imagine, yet thousands of Christians face this bleak future.
Starfish Asia is dedicated to lifting the hopes of the poor — supporting schools in the conviction that free education, based on Christian values, will restore hope to the community.
Liz EllisStarfish Asia 1200 627
9 August 2022
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