Starfish Asia was registered as a UK Charitable Trust in 2003, but the story stretches back much further. Mike and Kerstin Wakely lived and worked in Pakistan throughout the 1980’s, building relationships and becoming familiar with the needs and the problems of Pakistan, and especially of its minority Christian people.
Here are some of the milestones that brought us to the point of establishing a Charitable Trust to raise funds to give help to needy people in Pakistan:
The 1997 flood
A terrible flood hit the city of Lahore in 1997, devastating several communities and destroying houses and livelihoods. A pastor came to us and pleaded for help for a community of 35 Christian families whose homes had been washed away. They lived by the side of a sewage canal on the outskirts of Lahore.
We responded, raised funds (largely through TEAR Fund UK) and restored the community to hope for their future, constructing 35 simple homes including a church building.
The Blind and the Disabled
For several years we worked alongside an old Pakistani blind man by the name of Samuel John, who led a community of blind Christians in Lahore. When he died his community scattered but we found some of them again in the Ananias Home for Blind Girls run by Caritas Pakistan. Caritas was on the point of closing the Home for lack of funds. We were devastated that such a fine facility could be threatened with closure and asked how much they needed to keep the Home open. The answer was: “£200 a month.”
It was a turning point. So little to achieve so much. We raised the £200 each month and are still supporting the Ananias Home for 25 Christian blind girls who would otherwise have little hope of a future.
The Fellowship of Christ
The greatest influence that brought about the birth of Starfish Asia was our meeting with Ashley Arshad and his wife Seema in Lahore. They oversaw a team of ladies who were visiting and helping poor Christians in Lahore. They named their organization the Fellowship of Christ. Ashley appealed to us for help, and especially requested funding to open a school that would give education to some of the hundreds of poor Christians who would otherwise remain illiterate and poor.
We contacted a generous donor and have been supporting the Lahore Christian High School since 2000.
In 2003 Mike was in Karachi and woke in the middle of the night with this persistent thought — we have to bite the bullet and register a Charity to meet the needs of the poor, especially but not exclusively in the Pakistani Christian community. We know we cannot rescue everyone — but we know too that we have to save some! That’s why we called ourselves Starfish Asia.