POCATELLO, Idaho - While most 12-year old students are inundated with school projects, Fatima Rahim, 12, recently took on a big project of her own - to give child slaves in other countries a chance to go to school, starting in Nepal.
"Most people don't realize there's still slavery going on and it didn't end with Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Lincoln," Fatima said. "But in different places around the world there are people working as human slaves in dangerous conditions that could get them killed easily."
That's when Fatima and her family found seven year old Aasha working in a brick kiln in Nepal.
"There were a bunch of young kids working with harsh, toxic, smoke and so many dangerous things," Fatima said.
The Rahim family founded the JRM Foundation for Humanity and are working with the Little Sisters Fund, both based in Idaho, to bring these child slaves out of bondage and into classrooms.
Fatima learned there are currently 27 million slaves worldwide, and out of those, 18 million are children.
She said even though child slavery and bonded labor are still illegal in Nepal, there's a lack of oversight and for a lot of these kids, they don't have a choice but to work in such conditions in order to pay off generations of debt that have been handed down.
"The debt just keeps getting greater and greater and greater and they just keep passing it on. So, they need someone to come in and break that cycle."
Fatima's mother Beena Rahim said it's possible to make a greater difference, although the task seems daunting when you think of how many children are bound to 14-hour labor-intensive days, everyday for the rest of their lives.
"When you think about overcoming these huge obstacles in the world, you kind of overwhelm and overburden yourself," Rahim said. "But when you aim to help one person at a time, it's a lot more doable."
The Rahims cannot use Aasha's real name to protect her from anyone who might come after her. They said "Aasha" means "hope" in Nepalese.
They were also able to rescue Aasha's older sister and their cousin who are now going to school full time in the capital of Katmandu.