Daily reading: 23 March
Making bricks without straw.
Something to read
I have also heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are holding as slaves, and I have remembered my covenant. Say therefore to the Israelites, “I am the Lord, and I will free you from the burdens of the Egyptians and deliver you from slavery to them."
- Exodus 6:5-6 from full reading Exodus 5:1-6:11.
Something to think about
Over thirty years ago, as a Christian Aid staff member in Dublin, I was privileged to visit Christian Aid partners in Pakistan.
I recall that in Punjab Province there were many brickworks with domed kilns and people working in the hot, dusty environment. The United Church of Pakistan Bishop of Lahore explained that many of the people working in the brickworks were ‘bonded-labourers’ from the Christian community. Effectively they were slaves, working to pay off a debt that their family had taken out to cope with some pressing emergency and which they could never hope to repay.
Many Christians in Pakistan are of low social status and are descended from the ‘sweepers’ whose traditional work was regarded as menial and degrading, such as cleaning toilets, collecting dead animals, and sweeping the streets. The bishop explained that when he attended official functions, he was often given gifts of money. He used this money to ‘redeem’ (buy out) members of his community who were enslaved in this way.
Unfortunately, bonded labour still exists in many countries today. In a recent newspaper article (Irish Times 5 Feb 2020) it was reported that Irish criminals are involved in human trafficking for financial exploitation.
Kevin Hyland, the Irish representative to the Council of Europe Independent Group of Experts for Trafficking, says that last year there were, '64 confirmed cases of slavery in Ireland, including 27 cases of sexual exploitation, 35 cases of forced labour, 2 cases of forced criminality and 4 cases involving children’. The true figure is probably much higher.
Something to pray
God of freedom and justice,
Give courage and hope to all who are enslaved in our world today.
Grant wisdom and determination to those who seek to free them.
Strengthen our resolve not to benefit from the exploitation of others.
Today's contributor is John Parkin. John is a retired Methodist minister living in Dublin. In the 1980s he job-shared with his wife, Liz, in the Dublin office of Christian Aid.
Published on 23 March 2021