06/02/2006, 00.00
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Catholic NGO helping Christian and Muslim women

Catholic NGO opens its 13th centre, in Faisalabad, a place where women can learn a trade and live with dignity.

Faisalabad (AsiaNews) – 'Identity, Merge and Action' (AIM), a Catholic NGO, officially opened its 13th centre yesterday. The new facility, which already hosts 50 women, Christian and Muslim, is located in Faisalabald (eastern Pakistan). The ceremony was attended by more than 100 people.

"We don't have any religious problem in our area, Salik Town, as well as in our centre," said Mumtaz Allah Ditta, centre supervisor, "and we are providing our services to both Christians and Muslims equally."

The centre provides training courses in sewing, stitching and computer literacy to poor Christian and Muslim women of the area. In addition, it offers health and family planning and adult education.

Joseph Coutts, bishop of Faisalabad, led the opening ceremony with and Fr Shamaun Dullah of Waris Pura Parish.

The prelate congratulated AIM's staff for how they set up the centre. "Places like this are a source of harmony because Muslim and Christian women can live and work together in peace," he told AsiaNews.

"We have been working on this project since January," Anthony Mathew Gill, AIM executive secretary, told AsiaNews. "We are officially inaugurating it [the centre] now but it has already been in operation for some time. Poor women come from nearby areas and their number keeps on rising. They come to learn and we try to provide them with dignified living facilities and employment. We have already received some orders from local garment manufacturers and some of the women and girls have already started earning money."

According to Mr. Gill, this is important in a place like Salik Town, a poor slum area in Faisalabad that 325 families, 50 of them Christian, call home.

Founded in 1991, AIM's purpose is to help disadvantaged groups through training. It focuses on poor, neglected and underdeveloped communities irrespective of race, religion, caste, colour and origin. Over time it has also developed good relations with many international organisations.

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