“I used to work at a brick kiln earlier, but now I read in government school. I am very happy now. Thank you Schools4Freedom for giving us a new life.
Villagers freed from slavery
Vulnerable people empowered to avoid the slavery trap
Government programs accessed by the community
It took our frontline team multiple visits to the brick kiln and agriculture sites where the families of Barailia were enslaved before anyone would open up about their horrendous working conditions. During one visit, a community member pulled one of the frontline team members into a small, dark hut where 6 other community member were hiding and ready to share what was happening. 26 families were enslaved from debts they took or were taken in previous generations. The children were forced to work and unable to go to school. If they took a break or tried to go anywhere else for work, the slave owner would beat them. This is common in slavery situation, but this slave owner sounded particularly violent. The frontline team had a lot of work to do, but after continued effort everyone in Baraila came to freedom from slavery. The children were educated and everyone learned their rights.
Came to Freedom:
L. Sutton, P. Callahan
When the frontline team started working in Baraila they were met with resistance in all directions. The community was understandably hesitant around anyone other than each other. They feared the team was hired by the slave owner and no one would ever come to help them. The slaveholder encouraged these fears telling the community members it was dangerous to listen anyone but him. He would also threaten the frontline team, but they continued to show up. The first day of Schools4Freedom the children and parents couldn’t help but smile when they were served their midday meal, the solar lamp got installed and Baraila had light for the first time, the frontline trained the women in sewing supplying machines and lessons. All these things gave the community hope and they began to trust things could be different.
Mahendra was forced to work at the brick kiln and at the slave owner's home. He worked him 12-13 hours a day and gave him Rs300 (about $4) a week for food for him, his wife, and his two children. When the frontline team shared a BBC documentary in the village about debt bondage slavery, Mahendra realized that was his situation and he and his wife shared their story with the frontline team. They were supported in the rescue, their 2 children were enrolled in school, and the family was finally freed from slavery. Mahendra now drives a tractor and is employed by a building material shop.
All of Baralia is now free from slavery and the adults have found of variety of income generation. 4 survivors were given rickshaw trolleys for work through a government scheme, the women were linked with a micro-finance program and are making and selling jute bags in the market, and they all know the protocol for receiving payments at the end of a day-wage labor job. The children have transitioned to government school and they are leading many of the school activities. The parents know that getting the children to school will keep them out of slavery for generations to come.
Children of Baraila in government school with some of their classmates, including children in different castes.
Baraila with their government documents.
Schools4Freedom students enjoying their midday meal.
Schools4Freedom students heading to school with their teacher.
"Watching the adult villagers and their children morph from downtrodden face and attitudes, to smiles and self-assurance, is one of the most amazing things to see in the world. I highly recommend this program to anyone interesting in helping the world be a better place while helping themselves become a better person."
- Lloyd Sutton