Catholic foundation provides Christmas gifts to poor students in Lahore (photos)
by Shafique Khokhar

The Cecil Chaudhry and Iris Foundation offers quality education to poor children. Youhanabad, Pakistan’s largest Christian colony, has no state schools. A local charity collected the gifts.

Lahore (AsiaNews) – The Cecil and Iris Chaudhry Foundation (CICF) in Youhanabad, a Christian area in Lahore, yesterday handed out Christmas gifts to poor pupils attending its educational facility.

The students sang Christmas carols and performed theatre plays under the attentive eyes of their parents.

For CICF president Michelle Chaudhry, “it was a great pleasure to attend performances and listen to the message they carry."

“This time of year,” said the daughter of Pakistani Air Force pilot and Catholic activist Cecil Chaudhry, "there is a lot of talk about the spirit of Christmas,” which “is actually made up of love, peace, harmony, sharing, and acceptance of all that is needed".

However, for her, the Christmas spirit "is not something that we show with bells, lights, tinsel, and decorations; neither is it something that we put away in boxes after the Christmas season is over. The Christmas spirit should last forever! So let’s try to carry the Christmas spirit in our hearts and be part of the wonderful changes that follow."

The traditional Christmas event, which the CICF holds every year, included a man dressed as Santa hand out gifts to the children. The presents were collected thanks to the Christmas Toy Drive launched by Sonia Rehman, who was able to bring “smiles and happiness to extremely deserving children,” the CICF president said.

Many poor children study at the Foundation’s educational facility. "We are proud that our children study here where they receive a quality education,” said Ms Parveen, a Christian mother. “The constant support of the CICF helps our children increase their potential in terms of both education and talents. They are on the path to a brighter world."

“Youhanabad is one of the most populated Christian colonies of Pakistan,” said Barkat Masih, a Christian father. “Unfortunately, there is not a single government school in the whole colony for our children where they could get a good education for lower fees.” For this reason, “We are very thankful to the CICF for its efforts to provide a quality education to Christian children for a low fee.”

Masih was not able to get an education himself, but he is happy that his son can go to school. "Jesus is our best provider,” he said, “and we celebrate him full of joy. I pray to God that he may bring smiles on the face of our poor children."