Schools in city slums

Starfish Asia aims to support schools for Pakistan’s Christians.  Many Christians in Pakistan live in family communities. They work as labourers, domestic cleaners, street sweepers and sanitary workers. Wages are low, many are illiterate and access to Government schools is difficult or impossible.

Karachi is Pakistan’s largest city –a dusty sprawl spread over hundreds of square miles beside the Arabian Sea. It is home to about 16.5million people. An urban nightmare, it has been called “the world’s most violent city” by TIME Magazine.

In the north of the city is New Mianwali Colony, a community of poor Christians. The dusty alleys are the playground for hundreds of children. Here, the Holy Shepherd Grammar School was opened by a Pakistani couple with a concern for this needy community. Starfish Asia began supporting this school in 2004 when its founding donors dropped out. It had 200 students and the building was in urgent need of repair. In partnership with the school leader, Starfish Asia has enabled the school to grow and new hope has been injected into the community. A new school building was completed in 2022 and it will help to increase the number of students further from the current number of 650 to nearer 1000.This is just one of the many schools Starfish Asia has helped to develop and grow in similar slum settings in different cities across Pakistan.

Schools in villages

Two-thirds of Pakistan’s people live in villages, looking after the buffalos and harvesting rice and cotton. There are some villages in the Punjab where almost everyone is Christian. Some of these communities may have a church school but often there is no access to education, especially for girls.

Starfish Asia works in partnership with local visionaries, who have already begun working to educate their community. One of the growing number of such visionaries is Walter who was born in a village in central Punjab and his family still run a village farm. With the literacy rate in Pakistan so low, there is little hope for village Christians to go to school.

Walter was troubled by that, and decided to open a small primary School. He appealed to friends for help and Starfish Asia responded with a monthly grant, supplemented by small school fees and other family help. Now 140 Christians and Muslims study together at the Waheedabad Christian Middle School, building a rural community with hope for the future.

Schools in brick kiln communities

Hundreds of brick kilns dot Pakistan’s Punjabi countryside, turning out thousands of bricks for the building industry. Following age-old methods, almost all bricks in Pakistan are made by hand from mud, dug out of the ground, moulded into shape and fired in a red-hot kiln –all this done under the blazing sun by poorly paid manual labourers, many of whom are Christians. It is a family business, the children joining their parents to produce 1,000 bricks for little financial reward.

Few children of brick-making families can go to school –they are virtual slaves to the industry and to grinding poverty. Starfish Asia is supporting several schools for the children of brick workers.

One example is the Light School in Sheikhupura. A local church worker started a primary school in a small rented building for the youngest children of Christian brick-kiln workers. Over the past 10 years, with the support of Starfish Asia, this school has now grown into a high school offering education for 250 children from kindergarten to matric.

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