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Heroes You Should Know: Iqbal Masih

Iqbal Masih’s family borrowed the equivalent of $12 U.S. dollars from a local merchant to pay for a wedding.  They offered Iqbal as collateral.  And when the family could not repay the loan, the four year-old Iqbal was handed over to the business owner as a laborer until the debt was paid off.  A story from the dark ages?  Try 1987. Six days a week Iqbal would rise before dawn and weave for up to 14 hours with other children at the factory, all of them chained to their machines to prevent escape. But at age 10, Iqbal had escaped and joined the Bonded Labour Liberation Front of Pakistan. Because his growth had been stunted by years of malnourishment, Iqbal appeared to be much younger than his actual age.  So with the help of the Liberation Front, he would often assume the role of a child laborer, gain access to child labor factories, and once inside, gather information about the businesses.  Through his efforts Iqbal helped liberate over 3,000 Pakistani children. By age 11, Iqbal had begun travelling internationally, telling world leaders about his story and raising awareness about child bondage.  His dream was to become a lawyer and fight on behalf of exploited children everywhere. However this dream ended in 1995, when he was gunned down as he rode his bicycle with friends near his home, presumably under orders from the ‘carpet mafia’ in Pakistan, who was coming under increasing international scrutiny due to Iqbal’s efforts.  He was 12 years old The best way to measure a life is not in years lived, but in lives impacted.  Iqbal Masih is a hero you should know.  And I’m Dr. Ross Porter.

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