Hifasath ki Zindagi - New Life

Education seen as the best way to overcome poverty

Pakistan has many challenges, including high population, widespread poverty and high rates of illiteracy.  With regarding to literacy, Pakistan ranks at 113th position among 120 countries of the world.  The literacy rate will not increase until education for women is valued.

What did the Sisters do? 

Over a period of time, the Sisters came to know the situation of the families.  People come to Karachi looking for work and both parents get employment as unskilled labourers.  They are forced to live in a slum area.  And, because Karachi is a commercial city, the family has to pay high rent. 

Poverty is the primary cause of illiteracy and education is the best way to overcome it.  Parents who have not received education often do not realize its value. They keep the children at home, especially the girl child, to look after the siblings.  It is a cultural belief that the education of the girl child is not important as her role will be to marry and serve others.

On 9 September 2011 the Sisters began a new ministry at the Good Shepherd Centre to address the needs of children, girls and boys, who cannot go to school due to poverty.  They teach the children the basic skills of learning and studying so that they will be able to access government schools.  The Centre is open for all ages, so that the older children can bring the little ones for the classes.

Since it is a Christian area, all the students are Christians living near the Centre.

Who manages/administers the programme?

The Good Shepherd Sisters’ community manages it with three lay Mission Partners.  Sister Ruby Munir coordinates the programme.

Who is the major target group?

Children who are not attending school.  Special focus is on the girl child of the area. 

Who benefits and how do they benefit? 

The children of people living in poverty and without education.  Especially  the girls benefit. They learn to read, write, numeracy, faith formation and singing and dancing in English and Urdu. Their dignity is being raised and they become empowered to be better Christians and  talented and good citizens of Pakistan.

How many people are assisted

At present there are 63 children in the programme.  

Motivation and Core Values

Following the inspiration of Saint Mary Euphrasia, the Centre seeks to uplift the moral and Christian values of the children.

On Fridays there is preparation for Sunday Mass, using reading of the word of God, reflecting, hymns and drama.

Daily assembly teaches the values of the Gospel and good life.

There is a focus on preparing the children to avoid drugs which are readily available.

The meaning of the centre “Hifasath ki Zindagi” - New Life.

What outcomes are achieved?

Women’s day programme and children’s programme empower the participants to be aware of the need for education, their rights and responsibilities, empowerment of women, responsibility of parents in bringing up children, learning to save for the future.

How is the programme evaluated?

  • The children are happy to be in the Centre.

  • Parents are happy they are in the centre and not on the street.

  • Some of the children receive awards for being best in the class.

  • They learn to behave well and there is a spirit of discipline among the children.

  • Some children are admitted to school.

  • Some parents have realized the value of education.

How does it contribute to UN Sustainable Development Goals? 

Education is the best way to overcome poverty.

Challenges

It is difficult to motivate the parents regarding the value of the education because they have never received education themselves.

Some traditional and cultural attitudes and practices are difficult to change.

People experience themselves as a marginalized minority.

When the Centre staff meet parents and visit them in their homes, they see the way of life and the difficulties the children are facing:  malnutrition, diseases, rape, abortion, drug addiction, alcoholism.

What would make the project more effective?

To plan skills training programmes for the young girls and boys to improve their skills and capacities for better jobs.

Programmes for Women that help them to be healthy, including counselling and Adult Education programmes.

'How dear persons should be to us.

There should be no limit to our zeal and generosity in assisting them.'          

St. Mary Euphrasia