HONY restoring humanity in Pakistan

Anam Shahid Aug 24 2015
HONY

HONY (Humans of New York) is an online blog which was established in 2010 by a photographer named Brandon Stanton, with a simple motive of capturing strangers on the streets of New York through his lens.

HONY now has over 14 million likes from people all over the world! His work has always been astonishing, as he presents the people of New York in a way that is common yet unique.

A few months back, Stanton decided to visit Pakistan. His fans in Pakistan were ecstatic and they hoped to see their nation in a different light; and this is exactly what Stanton did. The Pakistani people’s amazing stories which he presented through his camera made every filled with delight! He gave us stories of people from famous cities as well as small towns. But while he managed to portray Pakistan positively, that was not the highlight of his trip. His main contribution was helping a Pakistani activist by getting charity for her organization through social media.

Syeda Ghulam Fatima is a noteworthy activist in the country, who is recognized for her work towards the termination of bonded labor in Pakistan’s deceitful brick kilns.

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Photo source: Humans of New York Facebook Page

Stanton set up an account for Fatima, titled ‘Let’s help Fatima end bonded labor’, raising $1,302,440 for the Bonded Labor Liberation Front in just three days. He made a seven-photo series for this cause to help portray the struggles of a female activist in Pakistan against bonded labor.

In the first picture from the series, Stanton posted,

“Meet Syeda Ghulam Fatima. Described as a modern day Harriet Tubman, Fatima has devoted her life to ending bonded labor.”

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Photo source: Humans of New York Facebook Page

Explaining her trials of suffering, he further wrote,

“She has been shot, electrocuted, and beaten numerous times for her activism. Quite literally, she places herself between the workers and their owners. The organization she leads, the Bonded Labor Liberation Front, is small but determined. It is working to set up Freedom Centers throughout rural Pakistan so that every bonded laborer has access to advocacy and legal aid. Fatima operates on a very small budget.”

Stanton had come across Fatima through the Pakistani-American journalist Fazeelat Aslam, who introduced him to Fatima and encouraged their meeting in the city of Lahore. Stanton came back as an enthusiast, all inspired by Fatima and wanting to help in her cause.

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Photo source: Humans of New York Facebook Page

Stanton describes the role of Fatima’s organization and what she does,

“Through her organization, the Bonded Labour Liberation Front, Fatima has established Freedom Centers where workers can go for protection and legal counsel. This system of bonded labor can only exist in the darkness of ignorance. If Fatima succeeds in her goal of providing education, legal assistance, and rehabilitation to every bonded laborer in Pakistan, the system will naturally collapse.”

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Photo source: Humans of New York Facebook Page

According to Stanton’s Indiegogo campaign he says,

“With these crowd funding campaigns, there’s nothing better you can do than empower a person who has shown a willingness to put a cause above their personal comfort and security. Fatima has proven this on countless occasions. She cares about ending slavery more than she cares about her own life. There’s no better person in the world to empower with money.”

When I heard about Stanton coming, I was already enough overwhelmed for him choosing my country to show to the entire world. I knew that his depiction of Pakistan would be more than just poverty, terrorism and an undeveloped country as the whole world considers it. Pakistan is enriched with culture and people with hearts that are strong and alive like Fatima here.

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Photo source: Humans of New York Facebook Page

Stanton has done justice to Pakistan by showing it more than just some country to despise. He has proved that humanity is just a click away by starting a campaign for Fatima and helping her bag over a million dollars in just a few days. And Stanton did not just stop there, for he is continuing on the venture to help as many Pakistanis as he come across.

This is HONY restoring humanity, at its best.

Anam Shahid

Anam Shahid:

Anam has always been fond of writing and fiddling with words which allows her to not only express herself but pass them beyond. Graduating as a media student at ICMS, creativity comes to her pieces on its own.