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Young Christian activist starts school for brick-kiln laborers


Young activist Kabir Sohail Leslie has started one of its kind school in Kasur. This school is attended by little labourers who are involved in backbreaking work at the brick kilns. This is first brick kiln school in Kasur, he told Christians in Pakistan.

Bonded labor in Pakistan

Detailing about his project, Kabir Sohail said that these children have no means to afford education, as they come from poverty stricken families who are oftentimes trodden by loans and are heavily indebted to the brick kiln owners. “This is the only school and source of education for bonded laborers working at brick kilns.”

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Kabir Sohail explained that these children are also deprived of schooling because of the fact that government schools are about three to four kilometers away which is also a great hurdle in their way. Due to current situation no one wants to send their children three to four kilometers far to attend school, he clarified.

He said that parents are reluctant to send their children to schools far off owing to the deteriorating situation where children are no longer safe. Leslie mentioned Zainab murder case, which is playing on their minds. “Parents are afraid of sending their children to schools,” he said. For this reason they preferred a Christian teacher over sending them to government schools.

Young Leslie is facing hard time coping with the challenges of running the school however he is determined and is hopeful to continue his work. He urged the Christian community to lend a helping hand to him, and step forward to support him with finances. “Please support me not just financially but through anyway like teaching and donating books etc ….for the school sustainability.”

He said that despite the fact that he had already set up the school he lacked funds to run a well maintained school, so he started with a white board, few books, stationary and sheets used for seating the students on the floor. Children attending the classes are taught subjects including English, Urdu and Mathematics. After three months global politics will also be added to the syllabus, he detailed about the classes.

Leslie wants to be a political leader and has plans to set up schools for Christians where they can receive high- quality education. He is of the view that lack of quality education is the underlying reason of backwardness of Pakistan’s Christian community. He also criticizes Christian institutions for not playing a role as effective as they can in uplifting Christian community.

Brick kilns in Pakistan

While talking about the hurdles he had to face while initiating his project, he said: “First of all if you talk about the initial problem, it is really hard to convince any brick kiln owner to give someone access to meet bonded children or their parents.” He went on to explain,” they did not want me to meet them and if luckily I succeeded in reaching them, the parents did not say anything but told me to talk with the brick kiln owner because they were all afraid of them.”

Bonded laborers in Pakistan

Leslie had to struggle hard in convincing the brick kiln owners to permit them to teach children of their brick kiln workers. “After struggling for two to three weeks finally I was able to convince one brick kiln owner to give me an opportunity to educate to laborer children.”

“At first, he was not that welcoming and friendly however after 2 or 3 days he permitted me to educate the children working at his brick kiln.” He said that after the brick kiln owner permitted him to access the children, his next daunting task was to convince the parents but was surprised to find that the parents were happy to send their children to the school.