Starfish Asia was registered as a UK Charitable Trust in 2003, but the story starts much earlier in the 1980’s when Mike and Kerstin Wakely lived and worked in Pakistan, building relationships and becoming familiar with the needs and the problems of Pakistan, and especially of its minority Christian people.
Over the years, Mike and Kerstin were faced with seeing first-hand the impact from natural disasters such as the floods in 1997 as well as the ugly face of poverty derived from a multitude of factors such as inequality, lack of education, marginalisation and sometimes persecution of hundreds of poor minority communities in Pakistan.
It was in 1999, during a meeting with a Christian Pakistani, Ashley Arshad in Lahore, when Ashley said to Mike, “If you really want to help our community, help us with education.” It was advice that led to the founding of Starfish Asia to meet the educational needs of the poor, especially but not exclusively in the Pakistani Christian community.
From small beginnings…
In 2000, we received funds from a generous supporter to open a free High School for 200 children in Lahore. Our work has grown from these small beginnings to a network of partners that are providing education through more than 50 schools and 7 homes for the disabled and neglected. Our concern has always been for the poor, the socially marginalised and the vulnerable.
Recently, after nearly 20 years since it all began, Mike and Kerstin felt it was time to start to transition Starfish Asia to the next phase of its future, and with this in mind in September 2019, the trustees appointed Duncan Stonehouse as CEO.
Why the name Starfish Asia?
Most people have heard the story of the man walking on the beach, and discovering a small boy throwing starfish back into the water…..
I was walking on the beach one morning and I saw a young man picking up starfish from the sand and flinging them back into the sea.
I asked why he did it.
“If I don’t, they will die in the midday sun,” he said.
“But there are thousands of starfish,” I replied.
“What difference does it make to save a few?”
He looked down at the starfish in his hand and flung it to safety in the waves.
“It makes a big difference to this one!” he said.
This is our philosophy – We know we can’t rescue everyone, but we surely must rescue some! Together we can make a great difference to many.