01/17/2019, 18.25
PAKISTAN
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Hope for the children of Lahore Catholic couple burnt alive (video)

by Shafique Khokhar

The Church and the Cecil and Iris Chudhary Foundation (CICF) support the education of Suleman, Sonia and Poonam Shazad. For their grandfather, “the true guardians of the children are the Church and the CICF”.

Lahore (AsiaNews) – Education is "the only hope for the future" of the children of a Catholic couple accused of blasphemy, stoned and burnt alive in 2014 in Kot Radha Kishan (Punjab), this according to their maternal grandfather who spoke to AsiaNews.

After the tragedy, Mukhtar Masih, he was awarded custody of Suleman (ten), Sonia (six) and Poonam (five) Shazad.

"I was a trade unionist for brick factory workers, but since then I have dedicated my life to these children. I do what I can," he said. However, he is not alone in raising the children.

The Church and the Cecil and Iris Chudhary Foundation (CICF), which runs the CICF Education Centre in Lahore, have helped the family.

"The Church provides for their housing, whilst other philanthropists contribute to other expenses,” Mukhtar Masih explained. “I am the grandfather but for me the true guardians of the children are the Church and the CICF."

His grandchildren are very keen to go to school and are very studious. Suleman dreams of becoming a soldier, serving his country and building a school for poor children. Sonia wants to become a doctor, to take care even of the less fortunate. Poonam, the youngest, still goes to kindergarten and says she wants to become a teacher and teach in her brother's school.

"I miss Mum and Dad every day, especially at Christmas and New Year's, when my sisters ask Grandpa about them," said Suleman who saw his parents die and is the only eyewitness of the brutal murder.

"I am an illiterate person,” acknowledges Mukhtar, “but I understand its [education’s] worth, so I will do my best to get all three children into higher education, as this is the only hope I see for their lives."

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