Sangita is just 15, but she’s seen a lot. Her parents needed to borrow money from a local brick factory owner, who forced Sangita’s entire family into slavery at the kiln to pay off the debt. Now she is free, and her story underscores how the FTS Community Model for Fighting Slavery is working to change lives.
Debt bondage is an illegal form of slavery, but it’s commonplace in India’s notorious brick belt. When people need to borrow in an emergency, brick kiln owners are happy to lend them money in return for a promise to work off the loan. Usurious interest and phony bookeeping ensure that villagers think the loan hasn’t been fully repaid, so that they never stop working. Parents are often forced to bring children along to sweltering brickyards to labor beside them.
Fortunately, Free the Slaves front-line partner MSEMVS has been educating residents of Sarawa village about their rights and the importance of education for children. Sangita’s parents met with front-line activists, and they have now ensured that she is in school. FTS partners operate transitional classes that help students whose education has been disrupted by slavery. Sangita is catching up, and helping fellow pupils. She’s also learning to become a seamstress.
“I am very happy because I am studying and learning tailoring, which was what I have wanted to do for a long time,” Sangita says.