He also developed breathing problems because the children couldn’t open the windows and breathe fresh air.
It was very hot, but the owner kept the windows closed. The owner didn’t care about the children’s health. He was only worried about protecting the carpets.
One day Iqbal decided to escape. He ran away and went to the police. Iqbal told a policeman about the carpet factory. He told him about all the children who worked there and about the terrible working conditions. Iqbal thought the police would help him, but he was wrong.
The policeman was a friend of the carpet factory owner. He took Iqbal back to the factory and told the owner to put Iqbal in chains.
Iqbal didn’t trust the police, but he didn’t give up.
One day he heard about a BLLF meeting. The BLLF is an organization that helps free child workers in Pakistan.
Iqbal ran away again to go to the meeting. The BLLF president was a lawyer. He helped Iqbal get legal papers that helped him become free. He was only 10 years old, but he was a slave in the carpet factory for more than half of his life.
Iqbal didn’t want freedom only for himself. He also wanted freedom for all the children in the carpet factory.
He began to speak at BLLF meetings. Iqbal was only 10 but he was not afraid to speak to large groups of people.
He was a confident and powerful speaker.
He talked about his experiences to many people and his words encouraged thousands to seek freedom.
Iqbal didn’t only encourage children to seek freedom. He also helped teach people in other countries about the children who made Pakistani carpets. This was very bad for business.
International sales went down, and many carpet factories lost a lot of money.
Iqbal and his family received many death threats. Iqbal was still just a little boy, but he was very brave. He didn’t just talk. One time he went to a new carpet factory and pretended to be one of the regular child workers.
He collected information about the children who worked there, and this information helped free hundreds of children at that factory.
In 1994, Iqbal traveled to Sweden and the United States.