An Update on Mehak
Many of you might remember Mehak because you donated towards a painting we had done of her last year. Mehak was kidnapped and forced to marry a much older man, and when we finally found her was pregnant with his child and enduring constant abuse. We were able to legally get her removed from the home and she has since given birth to the baby and is flourishing with her mother and sisters! Here she is today (in the white head covering) with Ben.
Your support is often a matter of life or death and we are so grateful.
You can help support more amazing women like Mehak by clicking here:
Celebrating 2021, Dreaming for 2022
Have you ever felt the crash of a wave against your skin? Have you been dazzled by a sunset only to take a picture and the results are lacklustre and you have to caption it: “doesn’t do it justice”? The visceral reality of our experiences are impossible to fully capture, and they shape our ability to imagine. While Television and the internet can show us what is out there, it is no substitute for the real thing with the sights, smells, sensations and sounds that translate into our brains the full spectrum of “experience”.
Our friends in the brick kilns live an hour from civilization, and many have never stepped foot into a grocery store, shopping mall, or park. Their lives have consisted almost entirely of clay mud, burning smoke and brick after brick after brick. This year for our End of Year Celebration, we decided to give them an experience that will enable them to imagine something beautiful beyond the brick yards - we hosted an all day banquet in a lavish wedding hall complete with decorations and food and fun! It was a full-fledged celebration of the children's studies and to communicate to the adults that they can dream and move towards somewhere they have never been before. It was our way of giving them the gift of imagination and it was a huge success! We bussed our students, parents and teachers in and gave them the celebration they deserve for all the hard work they put in throughout the year, building a future they’ve barely begun to imagine!
Our friends showed up dressed to the nines with sparkles in their eyes! That was their gift to us, a wonder to behold. Indeed, they shone brighter than the decorations our team assembled!
Sometimes we need to peek through the window of possibility to inspire us to keep going. This was us throwing the curtains open for our friends to hope and then take actionable steps towards that hope. They have to fight adversity and persecution to get out of their situations, requiring perseverance and dedication, it’s not easy to overcome slavery. Giving them something to dream of will inspire and motivate them to keep on going, for themselves and for the generations to come.
You can be part of them realizing their dreams by joining us in our endeavors to liberate, educate and invest. Click below to see how you can get involved!
Bringing hope, Moving toward freedom
Children and girls in the brick kilns face extreme mental and physical trauma, the conditions they are subject to are volatile and inhumane. Extreme stress on the physical body, lack of clean water, malnutrition, and smog from burning coal create extremely high rates of those who are born physically and mentally challenged. In this environment, which promotes survival of the fittest, a young family of girls has very little hope of creating a life outside of the brick kilns. Their status in society is low, and it is likely that they will marry others in the brick kilns and be required to live and work there for the rest of their lives.
When we learned of Chanda and her family, we knew we had to step in and help get them out of the brickyard. Chandra’s father passed away last year and left her, her mother, brother, sisters and cousin with the debt he had incurred. Supreme Court laws in this region require that children be released from their fathers debt once he passes away but lower courts and police will ensure that they remain enslaved to the brickyards until the debt is paid in full.
With the help of our partners on the ground, this was not to be Chanda and her sister's destiny! We have moved them into Miriam’s House - a safe home where they are experiencing community care and learning the skills they need to thrive as free people. During their time in our restoration homes we will carefully create a constructive community that reinforces their value and identity.
This is where your support can make a difference. Chanda and her family’s debt was equal to about $1,650 usd and while All People Free has made arrangements to pay it in full to release them from the brickyards, we have yet to raise the actual money.
Would you be willing to step in and help?
We wish we could say that hers is the only family in this situation, but that’s just not reality. Until we end the entire system, there will be more families living like this. Right now we have 8 other families in similar situations that are ready to start their new life.
A Family Freed
This is Salmoni
At the beginning of 2014, I told my parents that I no longer wanted to work making bricks, that since I was their only daughter, they must think about my future. They agreed. Then, in June of that year, my mother noticed breast pain and on the way to the hospital she and my father had an accident on their motorcycle. My father was injured so badly he was not able to work and the test my mother received showed that she had a tumor and needed surgery. For a while, we didn’t take her condition seriously, though she was on medication. And my father could not work the same as he did before. We wanted to be free so we worked so hard.
My mother’s condition worsened, she was in so much pain and getting worse by the day. The doctors said she had breast cancer and needed surgery but working as slaves, we could not afford the treatment. In 2017 my father borrowed money from the brickyard owner for my mother's surgery, and we prayed every day for her healing. Her surgery was a success! Eventually my mother was able to start work again and my father could help bring us clay.
In May 2020, Brother Suleman with All People Free came to visit us and we told him about our circumstances. He made a way for us to leave the brickyard and live in Anna’s house. Now I have started studying again at Anna’s House and I’m learning to sew. Soon we will begin learning to sew Bible covers, ladies purses, and clutches. We feel that God has seen our pain and heard our prayers for freedom.
Giving the Gift of Liberation from Bonded Labor
In our work, we encounter many young women like Salmoni, who are facing the worst of the hardships that bonded laborers are subjected to. Many of them are under threat of being trafficked, sold for organ harvesting, being beaten, and being starved. The physical and emotional toll is overwhelming. This is why we have launched Anna’s House, a safe home of restoration for these women and their families.
Anna’s House Provides Relief from Bonded Labor
Our first home is called "Anna's House." Anna means “Grace” - empowerment to change; to move forward. Our goal is to help women at risk find grace and empowerment through emotional and physical support, as well as trade skill training to help them move into the future with everything they need to thrive.
The goal of Anna's House is restoration for the whole family unit. During their stay at Anna’s House, we provide families with shelter, food, clothing, and training so they can become self-supporting. After their stay with us, we help relocate them to their own homes and establish them in a job. We continue to support these families with regular check-ins from our staff after they leave Anna’s House.
How to Give the Gift of Liberation:
Safia and her sons
Meet Safia and her sons, Asif and Qasim. Both of Safia’s sons lost their eyesight due to a disease and her late husband, Nazeer Masih, took out a loan to pay for their treatment. He used to work in the brickyards to feed his family and pay back the loan, but when he passed, the burden of supporting their family fell to Safia. Needing a way to pay back their debt and feed her family, she went to work in the brickyard.
Safia, her two sons, and her young daughter now live in the brickyard where they endure the harshness of the weather in a mud house and struggle to escape from the crippling debt that keeps them enslaved. Her daughter was unable to continue her education, and her sons’ blindness prevents them from most jobs.
With their debts recently paid off by generous people in their local community, All People Free is working to raise $1000 to relocate them and set them up with employment that will give them a sustainable income and a hopeful future. If you’d like to help, please click below to donate towards the future of this family.
To learn more about their story, feel free to watch a video that can be found here: https//www.facebook.com/minoritieswatch/videos/609663986434232/