Why a toilet facility- isn’t counselling better?

Sherish and Farzana by the newly installed pump that will vastly improve their standard of living.

For more details on the two sisters please click here

I cannot say I am shocked by the number of people misunderstanding the need for better bathroom facilities for Sherish and Farzana, but I can say I am disappointed that people have missed the purpose of our recent project.  Sherish and Farzana were brutally raped after being abducted at gunpoint by three local Muslim boy’s from their village.  The three boys had constantly been pestering these girls, despite their staunch belief in chastity before marriage a concept that is described in no uncertain terms within the Holy Bible.  

In the aftermath groups such as Sharing Life Ministries promised safety and protection for the girls. Despite all the promises from these groups the girls and their family have been left to their own devices, resulting in the use of an internal room of their house – without plumbing – as a safety measure to prevent the girls being abducted again, and to deliver them from the taunts from other boys in the community who threatened to repeat the attack, telling the poor girls that their Christian status made them worthy of such treatment.

Mehwish Bhatti our officer in Pakistan, on her first visit to the family prayed with and counselled the girls.  Moreover, the girls have maintained communication with Mahwish over the phone, which involves both spiritual learning, counselling and simple sisterly support.  Yet despite the constant effort by our group in partnership with the local Catholic priest a very Godly man Pastor Babu Pervaiz.  Some humanitarian groups and individuals have questioned our project’s usefulness.  

So for the sake of those detractors who still do not understand the purpose of our project, that is so much more then simply a small construction scheme to develop the assets of a Christian family, we provide you with more information.

The local community were observed and questioned on how they currently obtained drinking water in the area.  During her visit Mehwish saw people drinking from the water irrigation channels amongst fields, some chose to brush the hands in the water, attempting to filter away sand particles by this process to clean the water before consumption.  Other laid clothes on top of the water and slurped the water through the cloth attempting to filter out dirt in another bizarre and highly ineffectual manner. None of the houses have a hand pump, so the installation at Sherish and Farzana’s home is somewhat state of the art for this community.

Sherish and farzana and most of the females of the community do not have a conventional bath/shower.  They would all sponge themselves with two buckets of water and little or no soap, whereas the men and boys in the community use the local public stream as a bath, retaining their sharwar (loose trousers) in the process.  So at the same stream women will be washing their clothes/dishes and children and men will be bathing.  This has been confirmed by Mehwish who saw the communal use of the stream for a plethora of cleaning and drinking activities. The stream is also the source for local water and buckets of water from the stream are used for the purposes stored drinking water at home.

Local toilet facilities are simply non-existent.  People have been using the local fields and forest for centuries and do not even dig holes and cover up their waste.  The process is a simple one, once local people have defacted they simply clean themselves with local stones and leaves, then wipe their hands on the ground before they leave.  If they urinate they rarely bother to clean their hands or person male or female and continue on with their days activities.  As ghastly as this may sound to many of you, these poor deprived folk know little about hygiene and cannot afford any safer mechanism.  

So you see the benefit of the toilet and shower room facility we have provided to the victim family is immense.  Not only, does it provide the primary function of removing Sherish and Farzana from the torment they faced from the local community and stop the makeshift use of a section of their room as a toilet, but it goes much further.  The facility will provide them with clean drinking water and the ability to wash themselves more vigorously and frequently in safety.   Furthermore, this cleaner lifestyle should enable them to improve their health through reduced infections and diseases and will build confidence and esteem, where once it was taken from them.  The family have kindly agreed to allow other Christians to use the pump and some of their neighbours.

Ilyas Masih the father, said;  

“This gift is too important to be just for our family, I will allow other Christian families and some of my neighbours use the facility, for as long as I can see that they are not causing us any trouble.”

Finally, some of you suggested we should have installed an electric powered pump, and I can clarify that we did our very best to make this possible.  The problems we face are that unlike in the west electricity is not a constant.  Load shedding occurs across Pakistan, which is a scheduled regular shut down of electricity to conserve the deficient power supply for the nation.  Moreover, this community in particular has no electricity supply.  They cook over an open fire, using dry twigs collected and stored and light their homes using one kerosine lamp.  The father has a mobile phone that is switched of most of the time, which they charge occasionally in the local town store, paying for the privilege of course.  

The lack of electricity meant we could not install a mains powered pump which was by necessity a simple decision.  We looked into the possibility of a petrol generator and discovered that the local petrol station was several miles away, and the cost and availability of petrol in the area was prohibitive.  The country is currently suffering significant petrol and diesel shortages.  Finally when we sought solar or other renewable energy alternatives we discovered the costs were way above our meagre budget.  The family have expressed great joy in the facilities we have provided and on that note I finish this report.

We intend to build a £15,000 communal toilet facility and are working with the local council to find a suitable area of land.  The cost will include for the build and development of the site, the cost of a security officer and cleaner for one year, and the maintenance of the facilities for a year.  If we do not succeed in obtaining the full finance, we will either build communal washroom for all Christians at the local church – it has been deemed too risky to enable Muslims to use such a facility as it could lead to claims that the church lands belong to Muslims (click here for one example).

If you would like to donate to our relief work our bank details are as follows:

Sort Code: 20-67-90

Account number: 63468976

Bank: Barclays
Ref:  Love for Sherish and Farzana

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.

With your support we hope to change the lives of millions of Christians in Pakistan.

Working hard at boring to a depth where workers can access the underground watercourse.

Connecting the pump machinery.

Water pipes installed – almost there now!

Clearing a pathway for the necessary pipes.

Ensuring all the parts fit.

Determining how things will fit together.

Shaping the pump for best accuracy.

Smoothing out the passageway for the pipe and pump fitting.

A local tries out the pump.

It works!

At last another smile from Farzana.

Filling water containers for fresh drinking water.

Farzana uses the pump for the first time.  See it is easy!