Free Families from Slavery
“Who wants to go free?” an officer asked the crowd.
Slowly, one man raised his hand, then another. Soon dozens of tired hands shot into the air, ready to finally exit into safety.
When all was said and done, 564 people—nearly 200 of them children— were rescued from forced labor slavery at a massive brick kiln near Chennai, India. This was our largest anti-slavery operation ever.
Living in tiny tin-roofed huts and surviving off of a few meager cents a day, these families were forced to begin their backbreaking day of labor at 3:00 every morning. Suffering under constant physical and verbal abuse, the laborers molded, stacked and hauled heavy bricks all day, every day. Pregnant women were denied proper medical care and were forced to work without rest.
The truly staggering fact of this operation is that another 500 people were rescued from this exact same kiln back in 2011. However, the kiln owner was able to walk free on bail, and when he did, he returned to his brutal ways. Today, his days as a slave owner have come to an end. Police arrested him, and he is facing charges under India’s anti-trafficking laws.
And for those rescued from his grasp? IJM field workers are helping families return home, and will meet with them for the next two years, connecting them with rehabilitation programs and opportunities to rebuild their lives in freedom.