With an estimated 14 million slaves, India has more slaves than any other country in the world—including captive children like Joseph.
Though slavery has been abolished for more than a century in the United Kingdom, Europe, and North America, millions of people are still trapped by this inhumane practice. Adults, and sadly children too, must endure forced labour and even the degradation of sexual slavery.
Born sickly, Joseph’s father told his mother that it would be better to let him die and bear a healthier child—but she refused. By the time he was eight-years-old, Joseph was working alongside his illiterate mother for 15 cents per day picking chili peppers. His family did not earn enough to survive and two of his siblings died in childhood.
Then, when he was 10, Joseph’s father sold him to a landowner as a bonded slave for $2.50 per year plus a few cigarettes! Unfortunately, this is not uncommon. Thirty-five percent of Indian children do not attend school — often these children must help to support their families. And many families have at least one child that has been sold into bonded slavery.
Joseph worked from sunrise to sunset. If he was late, the landowner beat him. With no shoes, he tied cardboard around his feet to protect them from the hot ground. Unable to afford rice, Joseph ate the same grain that was fed to the animals. After two years, Joseph ran away from his slave owner.
The young boy was all alone, until a school for orphans took him in. At the school, Joseph had food and shelter and he learned to make crafts. A kind teacher took an interest in Joseph. Noticing that he was intelligent, the teacher taught him to read and write.
Today, Joseph has an undergraduate degree in Indian history and a master’s degree in social work. Knowing first-hand the power of literacy to transform a life, Joseph now trains adult literacy workers through a Bible League Canada joint ministry partner.
With your help, Joseph and the other staff of this Christian organization, operated by Indian believers, are working to change the lives of some of the 300 million illiterate Indians. Joseph is passionate about teaching his people to read and write so that they can provide a better life for their children and no one feels the need to sell their child into slavery.