Today we visited two remarkable Christian schools – one on the northern edge of Lahore, the other in a town one hour outside the city. Both schools are led by capable and dedicated people with a passion to serve their community.
Khalid Shahzad opened the St. John Vianney School two years ago to provide a centre of learning for the Christians of Shahdara suburb of Lahore. As other donors withdrew their support, Starfish Asia came to the rescue in mid-2014 to enable Khalid to pay the rent.
Fifty children up to class seven, study at the school. I asked some of them why they had joined this school. “We attended the Government School, but it was very hard for us because we are Christians. We came to this school because it is Christian and they teach the Bible.” (Christian children in Government schools often get bullied and pressurised to convert).
We came to this school because it is Christian and they teach the Bible
The school in Narang Mandi outside Lahore has been supported by Starfish Asia for four years and serves about 150 children. The Christians in the village are very poor but the teachers are committed to help them towards a better future… We stayed for three hours and Ian and Fiona gave some advice to the teachers. They loved it and wanted them to come back every month.
We came away from both schools both inspired by the dedication and eagerness of staff and students – and at the same time saddened by the struggle and difficulties they have to cope with. Both schools are in urgent need of immediate help to invest in their facilities:
- St. John’s school wants to pay their three teachers a small wage of about £40 a month, but they cannot manage with their present income. Teachers have worked without pay for the past 5 months!! Cost? An extra £120 a month.
- Classrooms need to be decorated, brighter lighting installed and colour charts and pictures provided to decorate the walls. Two classes have no blackboard. A small investment will make a huge difference to morale in the school. Cost? Maybe £250.
- Most of the students in the Narang Mandi school are sitting on the floor. They need desks and chairs for about 100 children. Cost? About £12 for each desk.
There are so many schools in similar situations. There is so much more we could tell you about these schools and their amazing staff. We came away inspired and determined to do more to stand by them in their task. However, we face a dilemma. We cannot increase our support unless we see the money come in.