Brickyard Slavery in Pakistan
Christian Freedom International (CFI), a Michigan-based humanitarian organization that assists persecuted Christians around the world, has produced a video documentary portraying the somber reality of modern-day slavery for hundreds of Christian laborers in Pakistani brickyards.
In the 15-minute online video, “The Brickyards,” CFI first explains what life is like for most minority Christians in Muslim-dominated Pakistan — life filled with persecution, abuse, and grinding poverty. In particular, many impoverished Christians who owe financial debts to Muslims are often forced to work in brickyards as a means of repayment. But with a pay rate of 44 rupees, or barely $1 per day, many enslaved Christians work for years on end to repay high-interest loans.
The video, which was produced during CFI president Jim Jacobson’s recent trip to Pakistan, shows Jacobson working alongside several brickyard laborers as he “walks in their shoes” for a day and attempts to reach a required daily quota of 1,000 bricks. Although the yard owner forced Jacobson to leave the premises before he could reach his quota, the video is designed to reveal the unrelenting harshness that many Christian workers, including grandparents and children as young as four, endure as brickyard slaves.
CFI has spent years extending its humanitarian arm into Pakistan, the world’s second largest Muslim-majority nation and a place where Christian persecution has become especially intense. The ministry has consistently condemned the growing violent and unjust treatment of Pakistan’s minority Christians, who comprise just three percent of the country’s population. Through a network of indigenous co-workers and church leaders, CFI has successfully managed a Bible distribution program, and has also distributed hundreds of care packages to suffering brickyard workers.
CFI’s latest brickyard projects include the distribution of audio Bibles to Christian workers, as well as the recent opening of a school for brickyard youth — children who would otherwise have no access to education. “So often we complain about class sizes in America, or lack of funding for schools and good facilities…these kids here are glad to have the opportunity to learn how to read and write,” says Jacobson, a former White House policy analyst who worked in the Reagan administration before co-founding CFI. “If they receive an education, then someday they hopefully won’t have to end up making bricks like their parents. So we hope to break the cycle through education.”
According to CFI’s co-worker in Pakistan, the new school is especially in need of basic educational supplies, including books, stationery, writing utensils, and book bags.