Recently my Facebook feed has been flooded with images from Pakistan courtesy of Humans of New York, run by Brandon Stanton. It is a source of change. It shows the world how each person has their unique story, and it gives so many people a voice.
Recently, Humans of New York travelled to Pakistan and several snapshots of wonderful Pakistanis have already been posted up, none more prevalent than Syeda Ghulam Fatima. According to the captions Brandon has posted along with the photos, Fatima is a a real life hero. She has been shot, electrocuted, beaten all in defence of the slavery that perpetrates the lives of brick kiln labourers. These workers are born into what is essentially slavery, many are denied education, work in unsafe inhumane conditions, earn extremely low wages and are not protected by the corrupt police force in their towns. Below is an in-depth summary provided by Fatima through Humans of New York:
“Bricks are the primary unit of construction across Pakistan. They are cheaper than concrete so almost everything is made with brick– especially in rural areas. There are 20,000 brick kilns across the country. We estimate that an average of 40 families work on each of these kilns and that each family is required to make 1000 bricks per day. That means 4.5 million people are living in slavery conditions. And so many of these workers are young children. Often they work all day and are denied education. They work in isolated areas, shielded from the eyes of society and hidden from the protection of the constitution. The laws don’t reach the kilns, so the workers live in constant fear of violence and retribution. The kiln owners are so rich and powerful. Their profits represent nearly 3% of Pakistan’s GDP. They put their friends and relatives in the legislature. They bribe and intimidate the police. It is very dangerous to speak out against them. I’ve been attacked and threatened so many times that I no longer fear death.”- Fatima
There are many, many more stories available on HONY that showcases just how miserable and dangerous the lives of these workers are and exactly how necessary and how important is the work Fatima does. The outrage and sympathy is visible in not only the comments made under each photograph but also through the donation page to help Fatima fight the corruption and slavery in the brick kiln system. Nearly two million dollars (worth a lot more in rupees) has been raised by the unselfish donations of thousands of people to help her fight on through her organisation, the Bonded Labour Liberation Front. If you wish to support Fatima, please donate at https://life.indiegogo.com/fundraisers/let-s-help-fatima-end-bonded-labor. You can also read more about her and the stories of other kiln workers on the HONY website: http://www.humansofnewyork.com/.
I am never more amazed by the spirit and kindness of humanity than when I read about stories like Fatima’s and those who generously donated to her organisation. I hope her story inspires you or at the very least, helps your realise that humanity still has hope with people like Fatima around.
Until next time,
All photos are taken from/by Humans of New York (Brandon Stanton) website http://www.humansofnewyork.com/.