A car! Okay, it’s just a toy car. But for Jahanzeb it represents his dream – to have a car of his own one day.
For a ten-year-old brick factory labourer whose whole family is trapped by debt this is more than just a boy’s natural interest in cars. It is a desire for freedom, for respect, for participation in the wider society from which he and his parents and his brother and sister are effectively excluded.
Two years ago, his father borrowed 50,000 rupees to pay for medical treatment for his children. Since then the whole family have worked from dawn to dusk, mixing heavy clay, pushing it into moulds, tipping it out and carrying the bricks to the kiln. Despite their best efforts they are told their debt now stands at 250,000 rupees.
Jahanzeb’s mother told the shoebox distributor: “We want our children to go to school and get an education but we have no means to do this. Our children work with us. They cannot go to school. We have to make them work so that we can repay the loan.
“They want to go to school but they also want to share our burden.” In 2016 Blythswood sent nearly 13,000 shoeboxes to Pakistan, many of which were given to brick factory labourers. For them, a woolly cap is a great blessing when they start work in the cold light of dawn.
Photo above: Jahanzeb lives and works in a brick factory in Punjab province, Pakistan