Since Pakistan is frequently in the news there is no need to elaborate except to say that the word that captures the present moment is ‘spiralling upwards’ be it the cost of food, rent, the other necessities of daily living, political chaos, kidnappings, targeted killings and on-going acts of terrorism.
In March, we were delighted to welcome Ann Gray, our Congregational Leader. While she was here, we took the opportunity to host a celebration of Thanksgiving for our co-workers, especially those who had helped us during the floods. Ann presented the Contractor, Mr Yunus Sohail and our Project Manager, Jawed Munawar, with plaques of Appreciation.
This was followed by the launching of Sr. Elizabeth Doyle’s book ‘That All May Be One’ in Urdu in order to share our story with the young women who are expressing interest in our missionary way of life. Before leaving, Ann paid a visit to our Housing scheme where she got a rousing welcome from the members of the 40 families who had been given new homes and a fresh start in life. Thanks Ann for the joy of your presence among us.
Since last September, Marie and Perlita together with their parish priest, Fr James Kajoo, a native Pakari Kohli and catechist, Master Lawrence have been reaching out with food, clothing and bedding to homeless families not living in established government or NGO camps but on ‘track-like’ side roads with only plastic sheeting to protect them from the elements.
In Roshnabad, where the parish has a village school under its care, the 29 Christian families there lost everything. The good news is that a benefactor has offered funds so that they can rebuild their houses, according to their traditional methods, on higher ground and on a solidly laid foundation. This work has already started bringing a whole new sense of life and hope to this community.
Not a stone left upon a stone!
Sister Joan McDermott arrived back in February after a 7-year absence and lost no time refreshing her knowledge of both Urdu and Pakari Kohli prior to taking up ministry again in Kunri. Joan’s arrival couldn’t have been more timely as Marie and Perlita were in the throes of packing up everything and moving to temporary accommodation as their house which is low lying and was affected by last year’s floods has to be knocked down and the ground level raised before rebuilding. The move was a herculean task that left them all in need of a good rest and break! The house has since been demolished and the next phase is in progress.
On 30th June a graduation celebration with Mass was held for a group of Pakari Kohli and Punjabi women who had completed a year-long formal adult literacy program initiated and supported by Perlita. One of the women, with great pride, did the first reading and in their sharing several mentioned the joy of not only being able to read but also of being able to write – not only their own name – but also that of their husband!
Each one brought a dish she had prepared and after the presentation of certificates – the joy generated by the ceremony – flowed over into their meal and dancing.
The Good Shepherd Tuition Centre, an initiative of Rebecca’s in the Christian Community where she does her pastoral work. The Centre offers foundational support to around forty children, the majority of whom attend the two most prestigious English medium Catholic schools in Hyderabad. However, coming from disadvantaged home settings they flounder even at nursery level. The Tuition Centre with its small class numbers, highly motivated teaching staff and Rebecca’s ability to introduce creative ways other than rote learning has meant that our children are growing in both knowledge and confidence and getting higher grades.
These days of school holidays they have a Summer Camp in full swing where alongside their traditional subjects are added art, music and the preparing their own food for picnics and other events that help to make learning FUN!!!
Hayat e Nau Rehabilitation Day Centre for Children with special needs, where I work as a volunteer and am involved in project development, is beginning to transform itself into a Resource Centre with the recent graduation of 3 staff members. Nadeem has just completed a 4 year Physiotherapy degree; Rehanna has obtained her Masters in Speech Therapy and Imran is now a qualified prosthetist and orthotist. Thanks to Columban funding we are helping Javed Sadiq, the Centre’s founder-director, to set up, within the Centre, a workshop for the making of artificial limbs and assistive devices.
Our next project is to initiate Community Based Rehab programs in rural villages and train local people in CBR skills. But first we have to do the ground work and identify not only the people and places most in need through survey and analysis but also the villages most willing to co-operate.
Just before breaking up for the summer holidays the 27 children attending the Rehab Centre put on a concert for their parents, friends from the local community and invited guests.
We were enthralled by the messages of their simple skits, songs, dances and the hand puppet show and one couldn’t but appreciate the tremendous amount of work done by their teachers to bring forth so much talent and wealth of humanity that otherwise would have remained hidden.
In a few days’ time, our Muslim brothers and sisters will be beginning their month-long Ramazan fast as they seek to give right relationship with God priority in their life and express it through prayer and in acts of generosity towards others in need. It also acts as a powerful reminder and incentive to ourselves.
These are just some of the people in our lives and I would like to finish by asking for your prayers for our mission here where the harvest is great and the labourers are few.
May the sun that shines on our lives also touch yours! (For more photos click here)
Sr Roberta Ryan has been missioned in Pakistan since 1989