Frequently asked questions

By giving aren’t we just creating a dependency culture?

Starfish Asia is well aware of this danger.  But it must also be recognised that little children and the poor are likely to be dependent and will need a significant level of support before they can become self-supporting.

Many organisations look to external sources of funds to finance their activities:  in the UK, the National Health Service is completely paid for by the government; many universities receive generous donations from alumni; even football clubs like Manchester City receive huge sponsorship from companies.  So it’s not surprising that very poor children need some help!

Starfish Asia makes every effort to ensure that schools use our funds effectively and can demonstrate this.  We also encourage them to seek income streams of their own.

Why Christian children?  Why not help all of Pakistan’s poor?

Christians are among the most deprived.  There are no accurate statistics, but one authority estimated that literacy among Pakistan’s Christians is 11.5% (55% in Pakistan as a whole) and that only:

  • 6% have a primary education
  • 4% have a high school education
  • 1% have a college education

We have chosen to focus on this particularly needy group, although children of other faith groups in the same schools also benefit.

How can I be sure my money will be well-used?

Starfish Asia is a small organisation, so we know our schools well.

In the last 10 years well over 90% of donations have gone to where the needs are.

We work through Pakistani partners who spend money in a way appropriate to their local communities, not on Western ‘vanity projects’.

We choose local partners who are committed Christians in good standing with their communities, who have integrity and compassion and who competently manage their projects.

We ask partners to provide regular reports and photos as well as proper accounts to show that funds are being well-used.

Staff from the UK and Singapore, together with Starfish Pakistan’s workers, regularly visit all our schools and homes to listen to their needs, offer encouragement and give help.

We in the West can’t solve all the world’s problems.  Shouldn’t we use our money for causes nearer home?

Certainly there are many important causes worth supporting at home.  But the needs in a place like Pakistan are on a different scale in terms of numbers and urgency.  For humanitarian reasons they cannot be ignored if we put a value on human life.  It can also be argued that there are economic and security reasons why it is in the rich world’s interests to tackle poverty in a country like Pakistan.  For instance, £37 billion was spent by the UK on the war in Afghanistan to protect national security.  One can’t help feeling that some of that money spent on humanitarian projects like education in south Asia might have yielded savings in the end by reducing the terrorist threat!

Does Pakistan really need help with education?

Education in Pakistan is in a state of crisis, totally inadequate to meet the needs of its exploding population.  Only 1% of the children who enroll in primary school graduate to grade 12.  One of every 10 non-school going children in the world is a Pakistani.  This is Pakistan’s biggest issue and not terrorism or corruption.
(adapted from Nicholas Kristoff, New York Times journalist)

Aren’t we just letting the Pakistan government off the hook;  it’s their job to educate their people, isn’t it?

Whether or not a government is able and willing to fulfil its obligations, we still believe in the importance and value of the lives of the individuals who are missing out on education.  2011 was named Pakistan’s ‘Year of Education’.  But at the same time the Government reduced its education budget to 2.2% of GDP (compared to 5½% of a much bigger GDP in the UK and USA).  This threatens the lives of tens of millions of children who will not gain the skills with which to sustain themselves in the future.  They will only get one chance to go to school.

Unfortunately, education has not got much better since 2011, and mostly the statistics remain similar.

Pakistan is a Muslim country.  Why are we supporting Christians there?  Isn’t that just asking for trouble?

Christians have lived in what is now Pakistan at least since the mid 19th century, long before Pakistan was founded.  But those are not our grounds for believing that they have a right to live there now.

Rather, in the words of United Nations Article 18, it is because “everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and … to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance”.

In Pakistan, Christians have suffered particular injustices and hardship:

  • unofficially because they are poor and seen as second-class citizens;
  • officially as a result of the partiality of Pakistan’s laws and the climate of fear in which these are administered;
  • and sometimes too, through mob or terrorist attacks.

At Starfish Asia we particularly want to support our Christian brothers and sisters who we know are under pressure.

Is education a good use of my charitable giving?

“Investing in education is the single most effective way of reducing poverty

  • It gives people critical skills and tools to help them provide for themselves and their children
  • It helps people work better and can create opportunities for sustainable and viable economic growth now and into the future
  • It helps fight the spread of diseases, reduces mother and child mortality and helps improve health
  • It encourages transparency, good governance, stability and helps fight against graft and corruption.

The impact of investment in education is profound: education results in raising income, improving health, promoting gender equality, mitigating climate change, and reducing poverty.”

adapted from

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