Over the weekend, IJM helped Indian authorities rescue two young brothers from slavery at a cow farm. The 13- and 10-year-old boys have now been reunited with their mother and are beginning their road to recovery.
“It has been two years since I saw my boys,” their mother, Lalitha, shared after the rescue. “I am so happy to have them back.”
The family’s ordeal began when a wealthy businessman spotted Lalitha struggling to care for her sick husband and keep the family afloat. He offered her a generous advance (about $570) if her sons would help on his farm during their school break. She was hesitant but had no other way to help the family survive, so the boys went to work.
But the plan for two months of summer work turned into two years of harsh labour and exposure to the elements. The businessman and his partner refused to let the boys leave the farm and instead made them tend nearly 40 cows day and night. The boys slept outside, barely got enough food, and faced frequent verbal threats and physical beatings.
After her repeated pleas to the farm owners failed, Lalitha learned about IJM and reported her case. IJM supported the local government in coordinating a rescue operation to find the young brothers and arrest the alleged slaveholders.
On Saturday, June 15, the team arrived at the farm and searched for hours until both boys were found and brought to safety. The two suspected slaveholders fled the scene, but police are still pursuing their arrest.
Local authorities immediately brought the boys to a government office to learn more about their stories and reunite them with their mother. For the first time in two years, she got to share a warm meal with her boys and hold them close.
Officials also bought the boys new clothes and brought them to a children’s shelter where they can get urgent aftercare before returning home.
“I am thankful to all those who helped today in rescuing my boys,” Lalitha shared tearfully. “I don’t have words to express how happy I am to see my boys safe.”