Mercy outreach in Pakistan
Sister Gulnaz Alfred (Pakistan) recently reported on some of the projects being undertaken by the seven Sisters of Mercy currently residing in Pakistan. This fortnight, Gulnaz follows up with a report on outreach work being undertaken by the sisters.
Mercy Education Service (MEC) – Baldia Town, Karachi
The Sisters of Mercy initially supported a young man called Joseph who began teaching a handful of nervous children from the Hari (Hindu) community in a bamboo open construction. Gradually, the parents noted the difference education had made to their children. The families took the initiative and started constructing a small school there. Most of the labour comes from the personal efforts of the families.
Sincere thanks to the Mercy support from Australia over the years. Now there is a small building for morning and afternoon school in two extremely poor Hari (Hindu) communities at Baldia, located on the outskirts of Karachi.
Sisters of Mercy at the Vocation Exhibition in Karachi
Sister Catharine Ahern reports on the event in the following words: “Christ the King Seminary, Karachi celebrated its golden jubilee between November 20 and 26, 2006. A central theme for the celebrations was a vocations exhibition held in the grounds of the seminary for part of the late afternoon and early evening during those days.
“Twenty-two different groups of religious men and women, including the Sisters of Mercy, took an active part in the celebration and presented colourful and informative displays showing something of the history of each order or group and some of their displays showing something of the history of each order or group and some of their present day involvements.
“Sisters Kaye Evans, Cynthia Griffin, and Catharine Ahern prepared the Mercy presentation, and hopefully during that week, brought to life “˜mercy’ in the various people who stopped by to comment, question or just to chat.”
Earthquake Horror of October 2005
Every person in Pakistan has been moved by the plight of people affected by the October 2005 earthquake. Sister Eileen Ann Daffy is working with Caritas Rawalpindi and has motivated her staff and students to play an active role in the rehabilitation of the victims of the earthquake. Sister Eileen writes: “Now twelve months later, the difficult task of rebuilding lives, hopes, and the infrastructure of homes, schools, hospitals is a stark reality.”
Other than providing warm clothes and other items to the impoverished families, the students and the wider school community of parents, old boys spread worldwide, staff and well-wishers of St Mary’s Academy have collected donations to help them. The decision has been taken to utilise these funds collected through the school to construct and operate a primary school in Muzzafrabad, the capital of Azad Kashmir, and one of the cities totally destroyed by the earthquake.
Since the non-Kashmiris cannot buy the land in Kashmir the Azad Kashmir government has agreed to give land on lease for the construction of the school. The school is being planned in such a way that those families who can afford to do so will make a financial contribution, and those who cannot will be subsidised by others.
There is a group of schools in London whose staff members are prepared to help by supporting “˜new’ teachers as most will be inexperienced due to the large number of local teachers killed by the earthquake. Perhaps in time there will be others from different parts of the world who can help in ways not yet fully envisaged.
The dream is to provide, in the long-term, quality education at both the primary and secondary level to children who have been traumatised by the devastation of the October 8 earthquake, to act as a beacon of hope and a tangible means of promoting peace and understanding between Christian and Muslim, to be Mercy alive and in action.
Whilst St Mary’s Academy has had to demolish its primary school building due to earthquake damage and now faces a huge debt to rebuild, nobody was injured. The loss of a building is nothing compared to what the people in the main earthquake zone experienced.
Mercy calls us to go beyond our own needs and to assist where the need is greater.
The Mughalabad Settlement
The sisters visit the families in this area and pray or just talk with them. The purpose is to come to know the families and identify their desires for faith development and nourishment and to investigate ways of providing these. We hope to identify and empower young women who wish to earn their living through stitching clothes. Through visits, the sisters are encouraging and supporting families to send their children to school. In the long-term, such steps could enable the people to develop through self-help.
Sister Patrice Orchard is overseeing a scholarship fund for Hubb Schrader, a Dutch national who worked in Pakistan for five years for the Diocesan Board of Education. Sister Patrice is also supervising a scholarship fund established by Sister Mary O’Toole RSM through the Diocesan Board of Education.
Sister Mary, an Irish Sister of Mercy who has returned to Ireland, was already in Pakistan when the first Australian sisters arrived in 1986. The scholarships are made available to young women and children who wish to study but the families cannot provide them with the financial assistance to do so.
Faith Sharing Classes for Children on Sundays during Advent Season
Sister Anila Isaac conducted faith-sharing classes for children on Sundays during the Advent season.
The Sisters of Mercy in Pakistan, despite their few members are reaching the maximum number of people to reveal the merciful face of God and keep Mercy alive.
From: Sister Gulnaz Alfred RSM