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Nun’s center a refuge for orphan girls

Updated: April 26, 2010 05:32 AM GMT
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Sister Petra Mariam teaching girls at Providence Home
Sister Petra Mariam teaching girls at Providence Home
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KARACHI, Pakistan (UCAN) -- Jessinta Fernandez lost both her parents by the time she was seven. However, she was able to continue her education and is now a teacher, thanks to the Daughters of the Cross nuns. Fernandez was one of more than 500 Catholic girls from broken families, or who had at least one deceased parent, who received care at the nuns’ Providence Home in Karachi archdiocese. The nuns and staff provide the girls with a homely environment, support their education, and in some cases, like Fernandez’s, even helped them get married. “My father died of cancer when I was one and my mother passed away six years later,” Fernandez recalled. “My uncle brought me and my sister to the home and we studied here until grade 12.” Fernandez, now a mother of two, said her future in-laws saw her at a picnic “and contacted the nuns with a marriage proposal.” She now teaches at a Catholic school, brings gifts to the girls at the home during her monthly visits, and helps raise funds for the facility. “The nuns are like my parents and the children are my ‘siblings,’” she said with a smile.

Children at the Providence Home playground
Presently, 20 girls aged six to 15 stay at the home, together with two nuns and five other staff members. “Most of them come from rural areas,” said Sister Petra Mariam, the nun in charge. Many of these girls, who have had a traumatized childhood, “tend to be disobedient and display violent behavior.” She said it was a “special mission” to serve them. “We try to train them with love and help them to study, play games and say prayers.” The center charges 300 rupees (US$3.60) per month for each resident while Catholic schools in Karachi give a 50 percent discount on educational expenses for each girl. “The total expenditure [for the home] is more than 60,000 rupees monthly but only the relatives of a few girls pay,” said Sister Mariam. Providence Home was founded by German Sister Henerica in 1964. Many of the former residents, like Fernandez, continue to visit the center regularly and support it. PA09530/1599 April 26, 2010 33 EM-lines (350 words) Caritas program helps kids break labor shackles Nuns´ center shows way to a better life

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