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Joseph Colony children to get education fund

After the attacks, rays of hope in Lahore

  • ucanews.com reporter, Lahore
  • Pakistan
  • April 3, 2013
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Hundreds of children have now restarted their formal education as life slowly returns to normal in Joseph Colony.

Six-year-old Danish Masih lost all his possessions, including his school supplies, when fire engulfed his family's house on March 9, after the colony was raided by angry Muslims in the wake of blasphemy allegations.

He got a set of books donated by a charity and for two weeks, he carried them in a plastic bag to and from his temporary school in a makeshift tent. "I could only read them in daylight, there was no electricity in the tent," Danish said.

But the permanent school has now opened, and reconstruction of the houses in Joseph Colony is complete. 

Aid has also streamed in from around the region. Bishop Rufin Anthony of Islamabad-Rawalpindi arrived at the freshly painted community on Tuesday with a group of priests and a check for seven lakh rupees (US$7,118) towards a new education fund. 

“This is an expression of love from the poor Christians of our diocese," he told the crowd.

The Church has pledged to fund the children's education through grade 10. 

Meanwhile, Caritas Pakistan Lahore continued its mission to help rebuild the lives of the 265 families who survived the attack, distributing school bags, bedding, hygiene kits and cooking utensils to them. 

“We are now aiming at long term projects for the poor which will include schooling of the poor students in the area as well as livelihood initiatives for women," said Amjad Gulzar, Executive Secretary of Caritas Pakistan.

“All of the colony residents are poor sanitary workers. The young are mostly illiterate. Education is the only way to a better future," he said.

Danish's father, Chand Masih, said he is happy the education of his three children wil be financed.

“I am a school dropout, but I want my children to progress," he said. "There are no chances of promotion in what I do."

But among this good news, insecurity still lingers.

“I sent the children to the Easter fair held at their school, but we did not go out for fun strolls like in previous years," said Masih. "It will take at least six more months before we start a normal life." 

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