'We can't just sit by and do nothing'
Children previously trapped in slavery and bonded labour in Pakistan are finding freedom through the work of a British charity.
One By One has now rescued 50 children who previously worked in brick factories in brutal conditions. Meanwhile, the charity’s weekly outreach teams are now visiting 1,000 children per week in factories.
Founder Becky Murray (pictured) said: “What a joy it is to bring hope to these kids. In Pakistan, this issue of modern-day slavery is huge. There are an estimated four million people working in 20,000 factories. Each kiln has about 25 families, who work in brutal conditions trying to pay off high-interest debts to factory owners. The debts are often so high that many families can never repay them so remain trapped.
“We first went there in 2018 and knew we had to do something. We built and opened our first home there in 2019 and partnered with another in 2020. So far we have managed to negotiate the freedom of 50 children, all of whom now attend school, get healthy meals and live inside our beautiful campus.
“The change in the children has been amazing. Some of them had juvenile arthritis but we are seeing their bodies restored. Many children who have worked in brick factories have never had any fun so to see them have a more normal childhood is so beautiful and precious.”
One By One ramped up its work in Pakistan recently following the heartbreaking death of a three-year-old girl. The child, known only as Mercy, was found raped and her body dumped in a brick factory office.
Becky added: “We knew we had to do something when we heard of Mercy’s death. We were already visiting 38 brick factories each week through our Sunday School outreach teams. Following this news we will step it up to 50 factories which will mean 1,000 children per week will be impacted.
“We are also speaking to Mercy’s family, seeing if we can offer assistance during this horrendous time for them.”
Outreach teams have also been expanded, meaning children still in factories can receive weekly education, Christian teaching and fun activities.
Recruiting more teams is the target for Murray, who also runs homes in Kenya and the Dignity Project (pictured right) she launched has spread to India, Brazil, Uganda, South Africa and Zambia impacting almost 20,000 girls.
She added: “Mercy’s story broke me. Imagine someone treating a three-year-old girl in this way … it made me sick. We can’t sit by and do nothing. We have to move and we have to move quickly. If we can get teams raised up and trained and equipped, we can prevent more tragedies and hopefully rescue more children.
“It’s amazing that we have rescued 50 children so far but this is just the start. We have to keep going and do more. I’m calling on churches, businesses and individuals to stand with us and let hope prevail in Pakistan.”
Becky launched a JustGiving page for the expansion. You can give here or find more information about One By One at www.onebyone.net