My wife turned me on to the “Humans of New York” (HONY) blog, which we’ve been following for several years now. Published by Brandon Stanton and started in 2010, HONY is a collection of interesting and heartwarming photographs and quotes of New York City’s inhabitants. It’s essentially New York City people watching at it’s best and from anywhere in the world. HONY currently has over 8 million followers on social media.
Stanton recently decided to travel to Iran and Pakistan to photograph and document it’s people, culture and scenery.
On his travel to Iran: “The US Government has a lengthy travel warning for Iran. While not advising you to ignore this warning, I do advise that you balance it with direct accounts of Americans who have recently visited the country. These accounts are generally filled with superlatives– the country is beautiful, the history is rich, and the people are eager to demonstrate their almost-sacred commitment to hospitality.”
“I’m supposed to watch them while Mom takes a nap. If they’re too close to each other, they fight. If they’re…” pic.twitter.com/a7ADjBresJ
— Brandon Stanton (@humansofny) August 22, 2015
“Americans are especially loved. This was noted in every travel account that I read, and I can confirm the fact. You will be smiled at, waved at, invited to meals, and asked to deliver personal messages to Jennifer Lopez. American music, movies, and media are thoroughly consumed by the people of Iran. Like all countries, there are many different viewpoints, but the vast majority of people will associate you with a culture they admire and respect.” While in Pakistan, Stanton met Syeda Ghulam Fatima, who has spent her life fighting against the bonded labor in the brick kilns of Pakistan.
The Story: “Described as a modern-day Harriett Tubman, Syeda Ghulam Fatima has spent her life fighting against the use of bonded labor in the brick kilns of Pakistan. Bonded labor is essentially modern day slavery. Here’s how it works:
Owners of brick kilns extend small loans to desperate, illiterate laborers in Pakistan’s rural areas, on condition that the person agrees to work for a short period of time. To sweeten the deal, the laborers are also offered food and accommodation. But once the agreed upon length of time is complete, the laborer finds that his debt has actually INCREASED due to accrued interest and the costs of accommodation. From this moment on, the laborer is trapped in a form of slavery. The longer he works, the larger his debt grows. He is condemned to a lifetime of hard labor with no compensation. And when he dies—the debt is passed on to his children.”
Stanton decided to launch a crowdsourcing project on Indigogo hoping to raise $100,000 to help Fatima in her fight. His photographs of Pakistanis trapped in forced labor triggered slew of donations, which topped $2.3 million in just 8 days.
“Thank you to everyone who has opened their hearts and donated to our cause,” Fatima said in a statement Tuesday. “I struggle to find the words, I don’t think I have the words to tell you how grateful we are.”
To view Fatima’s Indigogo page and donate, click here.