This Lent our parish and school community will be helping through our outreach program the catholic community in Karachi Pakistan. Sem. Daniel Andrades hails from Pakistan and his father currently is volunteering to work with the needy to evangelize and help with essential needs for their livelihood. This outreach opportunity will help us to foster the faith and wellbeing of the minority catholic population in the predominantly Moslem country.
Pakistan is the world’s 5th most populace country with a population of 223 Million. Christians constitute around 1.6% of Pakistan’s total population. Pakistan is very densely populated with approximately 742 people per Sq. Mile (in comparison to China which has 397 people per Sq. Mile.) Karachi is the most populace city in Pakistan with around 20 Million people, followed by Lahore with around 13 Million. Pakistan’s Christian community is concentrated mainly in Karachi and a few other major cities. Karachi Christians constitute 6% of Karachi’s population.
Condition of Poor Christian Families & their Children
A large majority of the Christian community (Urdu speaking community) are uneducated and illiterate, working on daily wages as laborers and cleaners (earning as little as $3.50 to $5.50 for a full day’s work. i.e. Pak. Rs. 600 to Rs. 800 per day). Many are now unable to find work due to the pandemic situation and barely able to eat one meal a day. Children from these families are mostly uneducated (child labor is also common in Pakistan) and end up like their parent, working as cleaners and laborers on daily wages. Christian couples in the slum areas have as many as 4 to 5 children. Although some Catholic schools charge a nominal fee of around $10 to $12 monthly-fee per child (i.e. Rs.1500 to Rs.2000 per child per month), poor families are unable to pay for the education of their children, resulting in a significant number of Christian-children drop-outs from schools. The Vincent De Paul Society - St. Anthony’s Conference Karachi is currently paying for the fees of 50 children from poor families, amounting to an Annual amount of Rs. 981,000 (approx. US$ 6150 Annually) and would like to include more children in this program.
The Urdu speaking Christian community are looked down upon, also having to face job discrimination. The government recently put out an advertisement for Sewage Cleaners - quote ‘Only Christians need apply’. They are required to clean the sewage with their bare hands often submerged up to their shoulders in the drains, with no protection. Many have died from gas inhalation and disease in a desperate attempt to earn money for their families.
Condition of Elderly Christian in Pakistan.
Many elderly Christians have been deserted and abandoned by their children and families and left to fend for themselves. Those in the poorer communities are often treated badly as they are looked upon as an added burden. With no unemployment benefits from the government. Very few (only government employees) are entitled to menial old-age benefits (approx. $30 a month.) The govt. has implemented a COVID one-time emergency-relief of $75 per family (many poor Christian families inform that they have not received this one-time-funding). There is a serious dearth of hospices in Pakistan, with no government funding or support from the Parishes in Pakistan, the condition of the elderly is dismal. A handful of homes for the elderly in Pakistan (for the Christian community) are run by the religious orders with no financial support from the Diocese / Churches of Pakistan. These homes are expected to be self-sufficient and hence charge a nominal fee ranging from $10 to $60 per month to make ends meet, as a result these homes are unable to manage maintenance and upkeep.
Home for Christian Orphans / Children from broken homes. (In Karachi)
These homes are also run by the religious orders with no financial support from the Diocese / Churches of Pakistan or the Government. A couple of these Homes include, The Good Shepherd Sisters Home and Providence Home. Funding is received mainly through donations. The children come from broken families, some have parents in prison, others have been abandoned by step parents or where the family is unable to support or feed their children.
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