Today we witness how social media can change and revolutionize the lives of people. It all started when 30 year old Brandon Stanton, who started the famous photoblog Humans of New York, came to Pakistan in July. A journey that started from stories of Hunza Valley finally concluded with the story of Syeda Ghulam Fatima who has devoted her life to eradicate bonded labor.
Debt slavery or bonded labor is a brutal form a slavery that has trapped more than one million men, women and children in its ploy. Thousands of bricks are manufactured every day in Pakistan, an industry supported by millions of workers. In a web of lie and deceit, this system is largely underpinned by bonded slavery. In this modern feudalist system, illiterate and poor laborers are tricked into accepting loans to work at a brick kiln for a small time period. With interest and costs of accommodation, their debt increases to a point where they have to work for the rest of their lives for no compensation. This slavery turns into a never ending cycle when the debt is passed on to the next generation.
Forced labor is illegal but the law remains unenforced because of the powerful brick kiln owners.
‘Humans of New York’ captures the struggle of a woman who is no less than a safe haven for these debt ridden laborers.
Syeda Ghulam Fatima is an angel in disguise for these helpless laborers. A woman with such fierce tenacity that could not be fractured even after being shot, electrocuted, and beaten numerous times for her activism. Bravely putting herself between the workers and their owners, she leads a small budgeted organization with the name of Labour Liberation Front and is busy setting up Freedom Centers throughout rural Pakistan so that every bonded laborer has access to advocacy and legal aid.
A series of 7 stories shows a glimpse of the torment the workers have endured over a lifetime. To help Fatima in her mission to end modern day slavery, Brandon Stanton took the initiative to start a campaign to raise $100,000. However this phenomenal campaign with the contribution of more than 42 thousand people worldwide has managed to raise more than 1.3 million US dollars in just 3 days. This substantial amount has not just increased Fatima’s abilities to help free people from bondage but has multiplied those abilities to save many more. All this money will be used for the liberation of bonded laborers and establishment of more Freedom Centres. Thousands of people worldwide stand beside Fatima to support her mission and make a difference. This campaign will help save lives of thousands and ensure a better future for our country.