07/07/2012, 00.00
PAKISTAN - SYRIA
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Lahore: Sisters of Charity giving a future to children and drug addicts

by Jibran Khan
Since their arrival, in 1982, they have emphasized religious education, promoted pastoral care such as a home for the disabled and care for drug addicts. Minimum fees or free education in schools for children of poor families. Regional Superior invites priests to strengthen the teaching of catechism.

Lahore (AsiaNews) - Enhancing education among young people, promoting pastoral care, helping addicts and caring for the disabled and marginalized by society. These are just some of the many activities undertaken over the years by the Sisters of Charity of St Jeanne Antide Thouret (Sdc), who first arrived in Pakistan in 1982 under the guidance of Sr. Anna Sammut. The nuns have chosen Lahore (Punjab) as a base, working initially to encourage study and education among the poor children of Shahdara Bagh, a suburb north of the town, on the north bank of the river Ravi. To tell AsiaNews about their work today is Sister Hend Salloum, the first regional superior of Sdc in Pakistan. She arrived in 2001 from Damascus, in Syria, and had previously worked in Lebanon, Egypt, India and the island of Malta.

Through education, said the nun, even children born into poor families can earn their own place in the home and in society. To achieve the goal is important to promote the work of ministry, which encourages the full development of children. After years I parents themselves began to understand the importance of studying and "making every effort" to enable children to study. And in Shahdara, where they founded the first center, the sisters have set up relief and aid centre for families, so all children have access and the right to education.

Sister Hend Salloum explains the work of women religious in Lahore, in the field of pastoral care and education, combined with the management of a center for mentally disabled - a home to women and children - called Dar-ul-Krishma and located in the suburb of Youhanabad. For families who do not have sufficient resources to send their children to school, she adds, we guarantee a free education, or just ask for a minimum fee. "Schools - says Sr Hend - are very helpful for the local Church in Pakistan."

In Faisalabad, however, there is a center for drug addicts where meetings and initiatives for women and girls with drug problems are organized. Some of them are also provided with accommodation and the opportunity to continue their studies, to try to build a better life. At Baji Mariam, the name of the institution founded by a missionary originally from Malta, a hundred girls are cared for - there were originally only twenty - thanks to the dedication of the nuns and their collaborators. Often, police bring the girls to the sisters, not knowing who to entrust them to. And the priests, in case of need, know they can count on the diligent work of the Sisters of Charity.

But the central point, says Sister Hend Salloum, revolves around the religious education of the people, which is why she is launching a call for priests and religious, to become "more passionate" and vigorous in their pastoral work and teaching of the catechism.

 

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