Building work is now almost complete on the toilet facilities for the two Christian girls Sherish and Farzana who were brutally gang raped by three Muslim boys (Decemebr 3rd 2014
), after they were abducted whilst using a forest as a toilet. Use of outdoor locations as toilet areas is a common practice amongst the extremely poor community from the deprived area within Jaranwala, at which they reside.
Since the incident Sharing Life Ministries a group supported by Release International claimed they were looking after the children. We found the family isolated and alone and facing regular threats to their safety unless they drop charges against the three Muslim boys, who enacted the sordid attack, after first kidnapping them at gunpoint. Our immediate focus was to counsel the girls and our Pakistan officer Mehwish Bhatti, has maintained regular contact with the family since an initial visit on 6th January 2014.
An initial visit to the two girls was prevented on Boxing day after Sharing Life Ministries failed to meet with Mehwish and her mother, and left them stranded at Lahore Station despite the danger to our young officer in a region known for abduction and rapes. We hope this was not a ploy to prevent access due to the claims made by this group that they are supporting the family. Responses from Release have been disingenuous, so we have simply not pursued the matter with them.
We promised toilets for this family despite their being no existing water supply to their home. Many thought this project was above us as the boring (deep drilling) to a natural underground water course, alone was a job that would cost many days labour with specialist equipment. However, though we were short of donations before we started, we trusted in God. The work began and we emailed out a further request for donations which resulted in a large donation from a benefactor and some smaller donations. The donations exceeded the required amount so we are using the funds towards building a shower for the family too, praise God.
We have now built the toilet and shower room shell and the boring begins tomorrow. The final fixtures and fittings should all be complete by Wednesday. The family is elated by the new construction on their home. They all together work on making one carpet a year that feeds their family. This brings in less then 80,000 rupees per year (£600). As you can imagine this means a facility like this simply was beyond their affordability, it would have cost more than two years salary. Under such extreme poverty they have been forced to use a forest as a toilet and a local river to bathe in. The use of natural resources in this archaic manner, has left them prone to disease and vulnerable to the rape attack the girls suffered. In recent weeks they have been forced to use a room in their house as a makeshift toilet, without any plumbing, this exacerbated existing poor hygiene concerns and filled the house with an offensive odour.
Ilyas Masih, father of the girls said;
"I thank all the Christians of Britain for their generosity and prayers, you have made my faith stronger then before."
He broke down in tears and wept, as he added; "We thought we had been forgotten, but you have provided protection to my daughters, as a father I cannot express my gratitude."
Sherish the eldest of the two brave girls, spoke candidly and said;
"Our family could not afford such facilities, for so long we have had to suffer ridicule. Local Muslim boys are still taunting us and threatening to rape us again, but this toilet means we will be safe from their evil hands."
Pastor Babu Pervaiz of the local Catholic Church helped me locate builders and purchase all the building materials. Pastor Babu has been a real source of help for the family and the BPCA and helped make this project feasible. he said;
"So many different charities and groups have visited this family, but all have failed to support this family. The gift you have given is beyond what we had expected and I will be leading prayers dedicated to the growth of the BPCA this Sunday. The story of the cruel torture of these two girls has made me weep copiously, I will thank God that they are now safer by his grace."
Wilson Chowdhry Chairman of the BPCA, called me and congratulated me on this first larger scale humanitarian project. he said;
"The work is excellent and your counselling with this family is visibly providing great strength. The beautiful smiles on Sherish and Farzana illustrate the new hope you have brought. God has blessed this work and in time we hope it brings long term comfort to a family that deserve solace and peace."
BPCA intends to build on this successful project and aim to build a large public washroom facility. The facility will include a shower facility and public toilets for the entire community, irrespective of the faith of users. Our intent is to tackle the extremely low life expectancy in the area that is exacerbated by poor local hygiene. The facility will have clean running water and will encourage the washing of hands after toileting that is often the cause of the spread of disease.
Many local people use the forest as a makeshift toilet which has no running water and cleanliness is deemed a secondary process. The new facility will cost in the region of £15,000 and we call on our regular readers to help with donations. There are 40 Christian families within the area of Chack 651/Dhakhana, amongst an overall 200 local families. We have the support of the local churches and the one hospital serving the whole of Jaranwala, which is the largest tehsil (district) in Pakistan. We are contacting local politicians and the district council to obtain approval, however the local community have been consulted and expressed 100% approval for such facilities. We believe the fact that Christians will be responsible for a facility of such benefit to all, will foster better relations amongst the Muslims and Christians residing there.
If you would like to donate to our relief work our bank details are as follows:
Ref: Love for Sherish and Farzana
With your support we hope to change the lives of millions of Christians in Pakistan.
Alternatively if you would like to send a one of donation please use the pay-pal facility on the top right hand corner of our blog, or simply send a cheque made payable to the BPCA to our address; 57 Green Lane, Ilford, Essex, IG1 1XG.
A solid construction with door frame.
Raw bricks for building