07/12/2018, 14.42
PAKISTAN
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Lahore, couples therapy to face family difficulties

by Kamran Chaudhry

During sessions, topics that could create tensions are forbidden. The spouses sit side by side, even if the Islamic tradition does not approve of closeness between men and women. Nadia's story: "I was fighting with God because of my daughter's illness, but now I found consolation".

Lahore (AsiaNews) - "Couple’s time", heart to heart talk between husband and wife in discussion about work, children and in-laws is forbidden. It is the most appreciated workshop in Lahore among the various initiatives promoted by the Focolare Movement to support families. Stella John, in the group of organizers, explains: "Spouses are invited to sit next to each other and talk about themselves. Discussions that could create tensions are prohibited. Instead they are encouraged to appreciate their respective strengths and to admit their faults in an educated manner ".

The last meeting took place on July 8 at Loyola Hall, the Jesuit training center in Lahore. More than 20 families participated in the gathering, entitled "Family as role model". In Pakistan, the group of focolarini has spread since 1965 thanks to an Italian priest, Fr. Giuliano Ricchiardi. Today, there are seven communities throughout the territory that count about 3 thousand members.

The way in which the meetings take place, explains Stella, creates no few perplexities "in our Islamic culture where both at school and in the families it is frowned upon for a man and woman to sit beside each other. For this reason we have noticed that older couples are the ones that most show embarrassment during the workshops. But the wives tell us that the continuous sessions reduce the episodes of anger of the husbands ".

Thanks to these meetings, Nadia Behram, a 38-year-old housewife, managed to find consolation and face her fifteen-year-old daughter's health problems with her husband. She told AsiaNews: "I was struggling with God and at the same time I was praying for my little girl who is losing her sight". The adolescent showed the first visual difficulties at the age of two, "when she began to struggle to recognize our faces even a few meters away. Now she cannot even get out of bed without his thick glasses ".

The mother explains that the young woman "struggles to study because after about 30 minutes she has a severe headache. She cannot even cook because as soon as she gets close to the pots her lenses are blurred. I was also struggling with my relatives who were sorry for her. My prayers were mostly invective. We visited many doctors and traveled more than 300 km from Multan to Lahore. The high cost of treatment then weighed heavily on the whole family ".

"I had fallen into a deep depression - she continues - until I discovered the existence of these groups. During the first meeting of the families, each of them gave us from 500 to 1000 rupees (from 3.5 to 7 euros) for emergency care. Then a Catholic school accepted to enroll our daughter by paying half of the fee. The nuns have assured me that she can attend classes even if she cannot read the books ". In conclusion she says: "I cry every time I tell this story, while my husband never talks about it in public. I thank God for all the blessings I have received ".

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