George Masih had his right arm fractured when a relative attacked him with an iron rod in a family dispute eight years ago. Although the wound did not heal and the pain intensified, he could not afford proper medical treatment. Despite his condition, Masih, 65, continued to transport people's goods on his donkey cart in the Okara district of Pakistan’s Punjab province. "There was no orthopedic surgeon in the nearby government hospital," he said. Doctors referred him to hospitals in Lahore, Punjab’s capital.
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But with a daily income of about 150 rupees (US$1.42), he could not afford to pay for treatment or accommodation and other expenses. Surgery was finally carried out after he was spotted by St. Camillus Charismatic prayer group. The group
of 13 married couples identifies such patients then share their list with the medical group of the Lay Camillian Family (LCF).
Treatment and a month of rations are then provided. The team is coordinated by Catholic nurse Asia Aslam, and includes her husband, a clinic dispenser, and her brother, who works for Punjab Emergency Service Rescue. More than 150 people were treated in two medical camps organized by the trio this year, including people who got sick from the use of sewage to cultivate vegetables. Services
"Bed ridden patients, elderly and widows are helped with the personal savings of all group members," said Aslam, a mother of three. Connections with government departments were used to facilitate assistance for poor villagers, including occasional use of emergency vehicles to transport elderly people with longstanding medical problems. "We just want prayers in return," Aslam said. Italian Brother Luca Perletti, the General Secretary of the Camillians
, in 2011 officially established LCF Pakistan in Okara district. Archbishop Joseph Coutts blessed LCF as extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion in 2012. Since then its members have spread to seven villages of neighboring Punjab districts. Challenges
Despite its services, the LCF also faces a little criticism. "Some priests tease us for getting foreign funds," said Aslam. "They say we worship loudly like services in the Full Gospel Assemblies Church." However, she added light heartedly that at least her group was attracting worshippers.