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Local Partners Rescue 29 from Bonded Labor Slavery

Our mission to protect the poor from slavery and violence took great steps forward over the weekend, with two rescue operations led by IJM partners in southern India.

On Saturday, authorities were able to rescue 28 people from bondage based on a referral from the Released Bonded Laborers Association. The RBLA is a network of slavery survivors, mentored by IJM, which seeks to help others in need.

Their work brought freedom to eight families who had been trapped by violence and forced to chop wood by an abusive local businessman. Some had been enslaved there for six years. For many of the 12 children, this was the only life they had ever known.

Government officials brought the terrified families to safety and began processing their stories. They provided release certificates to the families—breaking their bonds to the owner—and instructed local police to protect the families in their home village. Next, they are filing a case against the owner and will pursue his arrest.

On Sunday, IJM’s grassroots partner SHED India worked with the government to rescue one 10-year-old boy who had been trapped in slavery herding goats.

His widowed mother had taken a loan of 10,000 rupees (about $140 USD) from a wealthy businessman to help their family survive. This man convinced her to let her son work to pay off the debt—which led to the boy being forced to work under debt bondage for over a year.

“The boy had survived with just one bowl of gruel [a day] from the owner,” one SHED India staff member said. “For the last year, he spent all his nights out on the grazing fields with the goats.”

The owner was quickly arrested and taken into custody. The police inspector told IJM, “Because the victim is a 10-year-old, I was very keen that we immediately arrest the man who did this. This is a strong case because of the tender age of the boy who was enslaved.”

Now, the boy is getting the care and counseling he needs, and he’s already showing his bright personality again. Shortly after the rescue operation, he played catch with the SHED India team and even did a “happy dance” to the radio because he was so overjoyed to be free.

We, too, are excited by these successful rescue operations, and we look forward to equipping more partners like the RBLA and SHED—until all are free.

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