07/08/2015, 00.00
PAKISTAN
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Lahore: a new future for the children of Shama and Shahzad, burnt alive by Muslims

by Shafique Khokhar
The Cecil Chaudhry & Iris Foundation took charge of the Catholic couple’s four children, and are providing them with an education. The eldest, Suleiman and Sonia, have past their year-end exam with flying colours. For Fr Mendes, the “Foundation is not just paying their fees, but is giving them the love they miss so badly.”

Lahore (AsiaNews) – The four children of Shama and Shahzad Masih, a Catholic couple that was stoned to death and burnt by a group of Muslims in November 2014 after they were accused of blasphemy, have not been abandoned.

The Cecil Chaudhry & Iris Foundation (CICF) took charge of the children, who were between 18 months to 8 years, when they lost their parents.

Named after veteran Pakistan Air Force fighter pilot and Catholic activist Cecil Chaudhry and his wife Iris, the foundation is paying for the costs of the children's education: school fees, books, uniforms, private lessons, public transport, etc.

Suleiman and Sonia Masih’s First Term Examination Results came out this week. Both kids did well. Suleiman got an A+ and Sonia got a B. The CICF celebrated this by buying them toys, colouring books, and sweets.

 “We are overjoyed to see these children not only enjoying school but also doing so well,” said Michelle Chaudhry, daughter of Iris and Cecil Chaudhry and president of the foundation.

“We thank all our supporters whose generosity has made this possible,” she added, “especially the group members of ISWMOKB and all our friends who have enabled us to contribute towards bringing about a positive change in the lives of these unfortunate children.”

 “We at the CICF strongly believe in the power of education and the fact that it is education that brings change and security.”

Lastly, “It is my conviction that education is one of the best defences against exploitation and oppression,” the CICF president noted. “Academic empowerment is certainly the way forward for any oppressed community in an intolerant society.”

“Getting the poor, especially two small children who lost both parents tragically, thrown into the burning furnace of a red hot brick kiln on false charge of blasphemy, is very difficult,” said Fr Bonnie Mendes.

Despite this, “both kids are doing very well in their studies,” the priest said. The “Foundation is not just paying their fees, but giving them the love they miss so badly.”

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