Minorities making a difference
Religion is not a country, it has no borders and it is not supposed to be put in the same box as a culture. Even if Pakistan is a Muslim state there are beautiful people there, Muslim and Christian. Although we met plenty of people saying they have friends from both religions, there are some set limitations with marriages, schooling and job opportunities. We spent most of our days with strongly Christian oriented people since we worked in a Christian school. We lived in a Christian area but still had the chance to visit some Muslim families too. While doing a research about brick-kilns we found plenty of news on protest related to Christian minorities, so we could confirm there was no equality in that field. We learned a lot about Christian life in Lahore. The organization Miracle school was strongly motivated to make a difference for Christian families and at the same time not forgetting about the Muslim families in the same struggle either.
Brick-kiln is a place where bricks are being made. The process starts with digging sand with water to a good consistency, bringing that to the model, drying and baking it in the oven. They would work from sunrise to sunset, they would have some break for lunchtime when they usually eat only chapati (handmade Asian bread) with onion. Children from age 1 would be on the fields with their parents to work for 3 € per 1000 bricks they make. The work is done at really high heat and humidity. For ovens, they would use plastic waste as a cheap resource of fuel. Some of the locations don’t have drinking water installed in the living areas and there is barely any shade since they are mostly located in a desert. There are many cases of child labor, sexual harassment or even murder happening in the field. Work is being done in fear, to survive.
Child and bonded labor
As I mentioned the salary at brick-kilns are really low, actually, I would rather call that slavery than work. Parents are forced to bring their children to work at a really young age in order to survive. In case of any medical issues in the family they would need to take a loan from the brick-kiln owner, but because of low salary, they wouldn’t be able to pay it back, the same happens when monsoon season comes and they are not able to work due to weather conditions. So the families end up having more and more debts, forced to continue working for the same landlord till the rest of their lives.
Behind the scenes-factory life
We hopped in the car few times with the principal of the school, a worker at the brick-kiln showed us around and sometimes we were lucky enough to even get some shots of the children at work, that’s exactly what we were going for. As soon as the landlords noticed all of the kids started running home. The work is hard, long, hot and workers are hopeless.
Can you imagine a child that has no idea what is a rabbit helping the mother to make a brick so he can have a piece of chapatti that day? Can you imagine a 6-year-old taking care of two kids and showing them how to carry bricks on not even fully grown heads? Can you imagine a new-born child sleeping on the burning sun for the whole day, because nobody has time to take care of him? A seven-year-old with a shovel, digging a deep mud hole for new clay? A man with only one hand helping his wife with a bad medical condition to make another brick?
The miracle school project. What do they do?
The Miracle school project is way more than just a school. Their main purpose is to stop the process of bonded labors through education of children and parents as much as they can. They operate from two buildings, one nearby the brick-kilns for brick-kiln children and one for giving free education to poor families in Lahore. Besides that, they also make difference on the fields, like for example providing water tanks in the living areas or bringing sponsored food and clothes to the families.
Every year they would take one family out of the slavery system, find them a new place to stay, new jobs and secure them some money for the future so they can start a new life.
Even though the Miracle School NGO is making a huge difference, they do not get much support from the government, so they are always looking for outside sponsors. The extra money would go to the development of higher education school, salaries of the teachers and expanding the school. Even though they would accept many children they also come up with a problem to explain to parents that this is for a better future. Families are in big struggle, they would even find it hard to give all the children to school since that would mean fewer hands for family work. Most of the children that are going to school would still end up working the rest of their time. After their students finish the primary school they would sponsor the students with the highest grades to get into higher education.
How can we make a difference?
I am the direct connection between this NGO organization and you. Since they would not like to get exposed in the media due to safety reasons I volunteered to be the person in between and transfer the donations somebody gives for them. The salary of the people is so low that you can even help with donating as little as 3 euro! Donate now (write Miracle school, to make sure the money will be going to the right pocket if you have trouble with that you can contact me with any questions.
Check out this short video we made to get the image of how life at the Miracle school and brick-kilns really looks like.