Suleman, Sonia and Poonam meet their new nanny, Elizabeth Dildar
By Mehwish Bhatti
Although it's a very difficult to find a substitute for a lost mother or father we at the BPCA have tried to do this as best we can, for the darling children of Shama and Shahzad. In the media and charitable frenzy it is always difficult to assess what service to offer the three children of parents lost so brutally and cruelly in an unwarranted act of hatred - not that this type of hatred is ever condoned.
The parents Shama and Shazad were beaten to an inch of their lives and then burned alive, twitching their bodies in an attempt to cope with what must have been excruciating pain. Their only crime was to be Christians in a nation that despises the name of the faith, let alone the followers. In bonded labour they were unable to escape mob violence when their owner locked them in a room, until they paid his debt, which they of course could not. So for lack of £50 they sat in terror with their children awaiting their fate, praying their children would survive.
God has blessed the innocent young and tender children of Shama and Shahzad with safety and a chance to rebuild their lives. The scars of the murder of their parents will never leave them, especially the two eldest who watched the vicious attack that ensued before them. Even then God's great mercy protected the two younger children both of whom were captured and nearly thrown in the fiery brick kiln too for good measure.
Several visits to the family have allowed me to pray and counsel the family. The maternal grandfather is currently the guardian for all the children. There is a five-way custody battle for the children as members of the family scrabble to gain custody of these children who are now worth their weight in gold and seen as an opportunity to escape acute poverty and deprivation. Can they be blamed for this? Not really they are as much victims of Pakistan's poor governance as Shama and Shahzad. However it is essential for the well-being of these children that the children end up in the right environment, where they will be loved and cherished and not pawns in a grander scheme of wealth generation.
During our meeting with the grandfather of the children, he requested that we provide someone daily to help with the care of the children, cooking and cleaning for them, one that could also help with homework at home and early learning for the younger two. He also asked for us to provide schooling and associated costs for the children. A week after our appeal, we were approached by Michelle Chaudhry of the 'Cecil and Iris Chaudhry Foundation' who informed us that she had already started their schooling, so we set about selecting a live-out nanny, who would cook, clean, wash clothes and provide a maternal presence for the family. We have now set up the new service to coincide with the new school term in March, so that the two services for these children could be rendered more effective and collaboratively.
Finding the right person was essential and through some prayerful reflection we have located and have deployed a wonderful woman called Elizabeth Dildar, from Lahore who is a born again Christian and a widow, struggling hard to survive but with a real passion for children. She is a mother used to rearing children and is totally committed to helping these children, through her own passion for justice. Moreover, since her husband died her eldest son Rauf, age14, has been required to work as an electrician. She will now be able to use the salary that we pay her to subsidise the school costs for Rauf and her other son, Gulzeb, age 12, returning them into the educational process. Our salary is slightly above the average for the role, but there again we refuse to be complicit in keeping our community in poverty.
Our nanny will provide physical and spiritual growth for the children and as such her duties will include arriving an hour before the children are required to go to school, checking school bags are correctly filled, lunch is made and uniforms are prepared correctly. She will be responsible for other normal household chores but in addition will be providing teaching of the scriptures, group prayers and will provide counsel where required.
Elizabeth Dildar said:
"These children are in need of love, they desperately need a mother figure, I am just happy to provide that type of role because when I think of the cruel manner in which the parents were taken away my heart cries."
Alison Houghton, BPCA researcher, said:
"These three beautiful infants were so cruelly and senselessly orphaned by a mob who thought nothing of lynching and killing their Christian parents, in one of the worst examples of evil facilitated by the blasphemy laws. Nothing could ever replace the love of their mother and father, or ease their pain at losing them, but I am happy that we have been able to provide a Christian nanny to nurture them and help them heal."
I, Mehwish, will continue to be on hand to offer friendship and guidance, and to hear very regularly how the children and Elizabeth are progressing together. We really desire to provide the children with all the things that a child would normally have such as Easter presents, clothes, Christmas presents and birthday presents, and I am confident that many of you will want to join me in this by donating to our benevolent fund. Nothing we can do will bring back their parents but we must do everything possible to ensure that these precious ones do not suffer a life of uncertainty and hardship.
If you would like to donate towards the ongoing benevolent fund for these children, then please use these bank details:
Sort Code: 20-67-90
Account number: 63468976
Ref: Love for Shama and Shahzad
Alternatively if you would like to send a one off donation please use the pay-pal facility on the top right hand corner of our blog, our pay pal email address is email@example.com.
Any cheques should be made payable for the BPCAto our address; 57 Green Lane, Ilford, Essex, IG1 1XG.
With your support we hope to change the lives of millions of Christians in Pakistan.
The children meet their new nanny
Beautiful smiles: Poonam, Suleman and Sonia
Elizabeth will provide much needed love, stability and spiritual guidance.