Christmas is the time when children across the world receive gifts and the custom in Pakistan is for them to be gifted new clothes and shoes, usually from their parents.
BACA has always been deeply concerned about the needs of the children of Shama and Shehzad, we have always attempted to reduce their feeling of the loss of their parents. With this in mind, On 15th December, BACA’s team took all three children to a well known shopping mall, so they like other children could buy new clothes to make their Christmas special for them.
Shama and Shahzad for those of you who are new to us, were a Christian couple enslaved in the brick kilns of Pakistan, burned alive after the accountant of their owner accused them of a blasphemy (click here) . His allegations were made to prevent Shama from filing rape charges against him. Through the blasphemy allegations and the couples extrajudicial killing he was able to escape the justice system. Though over 100 radicalised Muslim men were originally arrested for murdering the Christian couple, they also escaped justice (click here).
The surviving orphans of this attack are under the guardianship of Mukhtar Masih(65 yrs) their maternal grandparent, who is now too old to work. He tells us he felt guilty that he did not have the financial strength to buy clothes for children this Christmas. he was very relieved when our operation manager informed him that BACA would take responsibility for Christmas outfits. The three children were pleased because it meant that they would be able to wear their new clothes to Church just like other children. Children there are still taught to look their best for God and they will generally put in a lot of effort to groom themselves well,
Suleman (14 yrs) said “I am thankful to BACA donors for funding new clothes and shoes for us”
Poonam the youngest said:
“I am so excited, I will have a lovely new dress for Christmas.
“I hope God thinks I am beautiful.
“I am looking forward to performing carols at the front of the church, we will make God and the church happy.”
Don’t worry, we have explained to Poonam that God is full of love and finds everyone beautiful and of course that she is a beautiful child.
During our last visit, on the birthday of Sonia, we were informed by the children that they did not have a study table. BACA has now bought them a study table which will help them study easily organize their study, have greater comfort and keep tidy. Their live-in nanny, Sidra Asif (28 yrs) spoke with us, she said:
“It was difficult for them to do their homework in a good manner.
“Completing it on a bed or a charpai was uncomfortable and bad for their posture.
“Now it will easier for them to stay organised and neat.”
Our former nanny resigned last month as she wanted to spend more time with her children. BACA hired Sidra Asif (28yrs) to replace Sonia Arshad. She is well educated and helps the children in their studies and homework. For the spiritual growth of the children, she regularly holds a family prayer time with children every evening. The children have already developed a close bond with her due to her love and care for them.
Mukhtar Masih said,
“I am thankful to BACA for hiring a new nanny for the children who takes care of the children as if they were her own.”
We were one of the first charities to provide support to the orphans and from the very first day since their parents were killed. We have been paying for a full time live-in nanny since 2014. The last nanny was in position for over 4 years and was as close to a replacement mother for these children, as they will ever know. We hope our new nanny can also perform this role as well and for as long. We also cover many other costs and visits to the family throughout the year and it is expensive. If you have read this account and feel moved to help then please donate (here).
Juliet Chowdhry, Trustee for British Asian Christian Association, said:
“To see these children grow up in a life that is free from enslavement is a joy.
“Suleman, Sonia and Poonam are well educated and will be great ambassadors for the Pak-Christian community one day.
“I’ve never forgotten how well behaved and lovable these children were when I met them in 2015, they have grown so big now.
“Their parents were taken from this earth in a cruel fashion.
“One hopes when Shama and Shahzad look down from heaven, that they have a sense of great elation that their children are emancipated from slavery and have bright futures ahead of them.
“All the team at BACA feel a sense of pride that these children and their grandfather have shared the same sense of love for us as we have for them.
“We treat their hardships as our own and celebrate their success, we all at BACA feel like surrogate parents.”