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Caritas helps transsexuals, HIV sufferers

Caritas micro credit scheme assists most marginalized

Archbishop Evarist Pinto of Karachi meeting transgendered in Karachi Archbishop Evarist Pinto of Karachi meeting transgendered in Karachi
  • ucanews.com reporter, Karachi
  • Pakistan
  • March 16, 2011
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Caritas Pakistan in Karachi has extended a micro credit scheme to include people with HIV and transsexuals.

Six people with HIV, two of them transsexuals, were recent beneficiaries of the income generating program in Karachi archdiocese.

The scheme has helped 350 poor locals since it started in 2001 and offers loans from 5,000 rupees (US$ 58.66) up to 15,000 rupees at 20 per cent interest.

“This year we are targeting the most marginalized community. It is a good opportunity for people such as transsexuals with small incomes. The idea is to help them live with dignity; retain their identity and not having to be a sex toy or beggar”, said Mansha Noor, Caritas’ livelihood program coordinator.

The Catholic Church’s social arm helped Mohammad Arshad, a transsexual who runs a business making ice lollies. Now married, Arshad took out a 15,000-rupee loan and earns 3,000 rupees monthly. “The summer is coming and demand will increase my income, he said.

Arshad lamented on 25 years of his previous life. “I could hardly manage to buy food and clothing. The Christians helped me out of that quagmire”, he said.

Caritas has been highlighting the plight of hijras (transsexuals, transvestites and eunuchs), who it says usually become entertainers, dancers, prostitutes and beggars in a society that doesn’t accept them. Though Pakistan has just started issuing national identity cards to transsexuals, still they complain of government discrimination.

Franciscan Brother Khushi Lal, who assists with the Caritas HIV program, says there is still hope in slow change.

“It is hard to earn respect when leading a life of sin. Therefore we are giving them ideas for career guidance like massage services, barbers, chefs or gardening. Some don’t understand the idea of using small loans and starting a small business. They need time and guidance”, said the officer-in-charge of the New Lights Aids Control Society.

Related reports
Pakistani priest helps poor with loan scheme
Church backs Pakistan help for transgendered
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