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Many Christians in Pakistan earn their living making bricks. Most are bonded labourers. Bonded labour in brick kilns usually occurs when a person is forced to work in order to pay off a loan owed to the brick kiln owner. In times of family crisis, such as ill health, brick kiln owners will lend money to their employees. Interest for the debt is deducted from their meagre wage and they find they can never pay off the loan. Children over the age of six or seven are forced to work in the brick kilns, to help their parents reduce their debt.

The typical family quota is 1,000 bricks per day. If it rains and the bricks are ruined, the workers don’t get paid. Brick inspectors take 20% of the family’s wage for looking over the bricks to ensure they are of suitable quality. As long as they have the debt, family members are bonded labourers, tied to the brick kiln, and unable to leave. If they wish to visit a location outside the brick company, a family member must remain behind; this is to prevent escape. Some families have been in bondage, making bricks, for generations.

Most brick kiln families live at the factories, sharing one small room. Persecution, including violence and lack of health care, is common.

Voice of the Martyrs, with the help of our supporters, recently funded a mobile medical clinic to visit serveral towns and villages, including a number of brick factories, in Pakistan.

The clinic offered eye screening, basic eye operations and medical care (including treatment for malnutrition and immunistion against disease).

A VOM worker who accompanied the clinic staff said “Poor and persecuted Christians could never afford medical care at this level. They were overwhelmed by the help that was supplied by Voice of the Martyrs to provide better eye sight, which in turn gives them a better life. Not only do these Christians possess the ‘light of Christ’ within, but also now experience the ‘light of sight.’”

We estimate that by 10 April, VOM’s mobile medical clinic will have treated 1,100 patients and completed 130 eye operations.

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