Aneeka's brothers and sisters celebrate her acceptance on subsidised Midwifery course that prevents her premature marriage.
Many of you will be aware of the huge Facebook campaign that erupted following the twin bomb attack, in Lahore. Khushi Masih, a father of 6 daughters and two sons (click here), was killed in the attack whilst saving others, and since he was the only breadwinner the family was suddenly met with a financial crisis.
The family could no longer meet their daily needs such as food, schooling of the children, clothes and other needs. After much soul searching and due to a lack of external support, the family had decided to marry off all the daughters of legal age. This was despite them doing relatively well in their studies, and in most cases being quite young. Initially we were unable to help as appeals had failed to reap any donations. However our perseverance brought eventual success, and this week we celebrate having provided financial support and the ability for one of the children to help the family out of the crisis.
Whilst delivering regular appeal stories several donations arrived for the family, including an offer that simply stunned our group and revitalised our belief that God was overseeing our work. A young Pakistani Christian man who had been reading our posts for some time contacted our Chairman Wilson Chowdhry. He proposed that any of Khushi Masih's children who had attained a score of 50 or more in their matriculation exams could enroll on a midwifery course. The course providers would pay for tuition, full board and lodgings (amounting to 3500 Rs per month) for the course duration, and would also provide a stipend each month (1,000 Rs) that would cover additional expenses and then some. In total a scholarship worth 81,000 Rs. So here was an opportunity for one of the children to no longer be seen as a burden, but to become a bread-winner. By studying a course that would lead to a career commanding a salary of between 18,000 and 35,000 Rs per month, depending or private or public sector, they could help drag the family out of poverty.
Our chairman Wilson Chowdhry contacted me with the offer and asked that I approach the family to see if any children fitted the criteria. God had his eye over this family and lo and behold, the eldest daughter Aneeka Masih, almost fitted the criteria. She was just two points short of the required score but communication with Joy Johnson elucidated that she should be acceptable on appeal. The mother however asked me to visit the family again to go through the details so she could be certain we were bona fide, worried about the vulnerability of her daughter, as a mother should be. Especially in conservative Pakistan where life is difficult for women and with an obvious fear that her daughter does not become one of statistics of 700 Christian girls kidnapped, raped and forced into Islamic marriage.
So I travelled down and met the family on 21st April 2015, all of whom were extremely warm and friendly. We discussed the options and it was decided that we would apply for a place. We duly completed the forms together and I sent them to Joy for him to assess for accuracy. Joy confirmed they were correctly completed and submitted them to the board of Memorial Hospital in Bannu. Initially the board declined the offer and everyone was devastated. Then Wilson Chowdhry offered to write a letter explaining the mitigating circumstances, and the service the board would be doing for a family of a Pakistani hero. The whole BPCA Team prayed as we re-submitted the application with the formal appeal for magnanimity. Weeks passed and we heard nothing then on 12th June Joy confirmed that the board had made their final decision and that Aneeka had been accepted.
After the whoops of joy shared between BPCA prayer team members across the globe, we then decided to advise the family of the success in person.
On 1st July I met once again with the family, brought them three month's worth of groceries, and told them of Aneeka's successful acceptance on to the course. She ran over to her mother and gave her a big hug, grinning from ear to ear. We then rejoiced together. For me it was an extremely emotional moment and a culmination of hard work and endeavor. Aneeka's mother Balqis asked several questions about the training and the duration of the course. Though the venue is far away from their home, I have managed to satisfy her of the authenticity of the course and was surprised that for some time they had heard of the BPCA and had admired our work.
Aneeka shared with me how she had prayed dilligently for this training and had always wanted to go for nursing training, but due to lack of facilities and the loss of her father she had thought it would be impossible. She said:
"I am consistent with my prayers and believe God has sent you to help me. I will work hard during this training and will not let anyone down. I want to be an example to my sisters and hope it will pave the way for them to follow me into a similar career. This way we can have bright futures."
I have agreed to travel with the mother, Balqis, to help Aneeka register at college for the first day. I am really grateful to God for creating this opportunity for Aneeka. She is young intelligent girl who wants to help her family out of poverty. She is a genuine believer in Christ and truly believes in the great works of God. From the depths of despair God has brought great hope to this family. His love endures forever!
Alison Houghton , BPCA Trustee, said:
"Kushi Masih was a brave family man who was selflessly protecting others on that awful day when the suicide bomber struck. He loved all of his children and provided for each one. I am so thankful to God that Aneeka has been given this chance to train as a midwife, and that the loss of her father did not mean forced premature marriage due to financial burden and the loss of her dreams."
We are working tirelessly to help end injustice for Christians in Pakistan, but we can't do it without your help.
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