What is a hero? Some people say a hero is someone who fights evil. Some people say a hero is someone who defends the weak.
Other people say a hero is someone who risks his or her safety to protect others. Iqbal Masih was all of these things, and he was only 12 years old.
Iqbal was born in a rural village in Pakistan. Iqbal’s father left the
family after he was born. Iqbal’s mother cleaned houses.
She had very little money and could not take care of Iqbal and his brother and sisters.
At the age of 4, Iqbal’s mother sold him to a carpet factory owner for $12.
Many carpets in Pakistan are made by child workers like Iqbal.
These children have no freedom and are slaves to the factory owners.
They work in terrible conditions for very long hours. Iqbal worked 12 hours a day, six days a week.
He couldn’t do anything normal children do. He couldn’t go to school or play with his friends.
There were many rules at the carpet factory. If Iqbal broke a rule, he was beaten. If he talked to the other children while he was working, he was beaten. If he made a mistake on a carpet, he was beaten. If he became sick, he was also beaten. This was no place for children.
Working at the carpet factory was very hard on Iqbal’s body. He could not sit down. He had to squat all day while he made the carpets. This was very bad for his back and he had trouble walking.
He had to squat all day. This was very bad for his back.
He also didn’t get enough food to eat. His body never fully developed. At the age of 12, he was the size of a six-year-old