Mercy alive in Pakistan
Sister Gulnaz Alfred RSM (Pakistan) reports on how the seed of Mercy that Catherine McAuley sowed 175 years ago in Dublin has miraculously found roots in Pakistan and is flourishing. Currently, seven Sisters of Mercy are permanently residing in two areas of Pakistan – Rawalpindi in the north, near Islamabad, and Karachi in the south, on the coast of the Arabian Sea. Gulnaz describes how some of the sisters and the communities they serve celebrated Christmas. She also admits that her article is “an attempt to encourage sisters in Australia to see the ways in which they could come and serve here in Pakistan.”
SISTERS OF MERCY IN PAKISTAN
This article focuses on how the seed of Mercy that Catherine McAuley sowed 175 years ago in
These days Mercies are present in
Sister Patrice Orchard, the present leader of the
Here are some of the institutions in which the sisters are working and making a difference.
ST JOSEPH’S PRIMARY SCHOOL
In 2006, Bishop Anthony Lobo proposed if the
General Background: Mughalabad is a settlement of 400 to 500 Christian families set up by the government for socially and economically impoverished people. These people work in the municipality, which means sweeping the roads, cleaning public toilets and the drains. The people of the area live on a very small wage. The families are large and the houses are extremely small with only basic facilities. People go out to get water. In such conditions meeting the everyday needs is a priority rather than education of the children.
It was considered important to upgrade the standard of teaching and learning in the school. In order to improve the standard of the school:
Â§ workshops are being conducted;
Â§ assistance is being given in planning lessons;
Â§ the school environment has improved and has been made more learning-oriented;
Â§ the teachers and the children have painted the school with bright colours;
Â§ permission was asked from the DBE to make the school facility available to provide supplementary classes for children attending school and for non-formal education for the over age children.
A fete was organised in the school for multiple reasons:
Â§ to make people interested in the school activities;
Â§ to support the people by giving them good second hand material at low prices;
Â§ to support the school to buy some things.
All these strategies have definitely made an impact on the children in the school and increased the interest of the people in the school. The staff often find children, and at times parents, peeping through the gate to look at this colourful building that once looked dull and gloomy.
The nationalised schools were denationalised in 2000 and so the Christians got their institutions back in much worse condition than they were in 1970s.
St Catherine’s Convent Girls’
The challenge is manyfold. The school consists of 40% Christians and 60% Muslims. The majority of students come from poor families while some are from middle class families. English is the fourth language for most of the students. Teaching the students in English subjects like Science, Social Studies and English calls for all your teaching skills as well as your drawing, acting and singing skills.
ST MARY’S ACADEMY
Sister Eileen Ann Daffy is the present principal of this prestigious school for boys. The school is known for its high standard of education.
Sister Mary is working in the primary section of the school supporting the teachers to modify the present syllabus and to be more creative and address the needs of the children. Presently, Mary and the staff are working to devise strategies for improving the reading and comprehension skills of the students for whom English is their fourth language with very little or no help at home.
Annette Chidzey, a volunteer from
NOTRE DAME INSTITUTE OF EDUCATION
At present two
Recently six graduates from NDIE have been appointed on staff. Thus it has become a solid group with many and varied gifts all working as a team to give their best to the students.
In the words of Sister Catharine Ahern, “The greatest joy each year at NDIE is watching students achieve personal milestones and gaining a competence to work confidently with children in classrooms from the most isolated villages in the mountains to the most densely populated cities in
In August, the staff at NDIE welcomed 56 Bachelor in Education (BEd) and International Graduate Certificate of Education (IGCE) students. This is the largest group to date, and also 10 final year Master of Education (MEd) students. Students from Sindh,
CHRISTMAS CELEBRATIONS IN RAWALPINDI SCHOOLS
As in every country of the world, Christians in
In Mughalabad, the students prepared Christmas drama around the birth of Jesus Christ and another drama to convey the message of Christmas, and that is to share what we have with those who have less than what we have.
The biggest thrill for the children here was that Santa Claus came to this small primary school for the first time. Thanks to Maureen and Leah, family members of Sister Patrice Orchard who came for a visit to
At St Catherine’s Convent, the girls presented beautiful tableaus for several Christmas songs. At the end of the Christmas program snacks were distributed among the students.
The students of St Mary’s presented a journey to
Christmas Celebrations and Winter Holidays
Midnight Mass at
Christmas Day celebrations in the community began with morning Mass, followed by Kris Kindle gifts and an exchange of greetings before beginning the Christmas dinner which all had prepared. During the afternoon, we welcomed the sisters from our neighbouring Mercy community and again shared gifts and a cup of tea.
Eventually the long awaited winter holidays came. After Christmas the Pakistani sisters went to visit their families and the Australian sisters moved out of
The next stop was Swat. Here, the ski resort at Malam Jaba is a tourist attraction; the thick snow-capped mountains where people were skiing and having a wonderful time. The scenery around the valley was spectacular. The scenery from the hotel named The Rock City where the sisters were residing was magnificent. The
Soon it was time to return to the various areas of work but the memories of these beautiful snow capped mountains will flash back in their minds during the hot summer season.
A Word of Thanks
In the end I thank all the
From: Sister Gulnaz Alfred RSM
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