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Skills training and education are 'the only way out of dire situation' for Pakistan's poor

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WASHINGTON, DC — To improve the lives of Pakistanis, the Archdiocese of Lahore stepped up its education and vocational training efforts.

Archbishop Sebastian Shaw of Lahore, who has led the Archdiocese of Lahore since 2013, said, “We appreciate that through education, skills training and other professional training, it is the only way out of this dire situation. and researched.

Beyond faith-building, which is already a priority within the parish, “we have run a summer school, but it has only been high school. told The Catholic News Service in a July 26 telephone interview from Brooklyn, New York.

Shaw was in Brooklyn for a meeting with Aid to the Church in Need/USA. ACN supports pastoral activities of the Catholic Church in Pakistan. He also came to the United States to help his parish priest celebrate his ordination anniversary.

“When people get an education like a seamstress or a barber, or become like a plumber or an electrician or a laboratory technician or a nurse or a nurse’s aide, people get out of poverty,” Shaw said. said.

“But where there is no education,” in poverty, “people are slaves,” he added.

In the Archdiocese of Lahore, “we started three colleges,” said the Pakistani-born archbishop. One is coeducational, one is for men, and one is ‘women only’. Some parents want their girls to go to different colleges,” he added.Although his formal education ended in grade 10, the school ended his year in 2014. Added 11th grade and his 12th grade. Students can now attend up to ’14th grade’.

“Now their education standards are up. Now they are very happy to have been given the chance,” Shaw said. Master’s degree programs exist in education, chemistry, physics, and information technology.

This is very good. Also we are happy. Our young people are looking forward to becoming professionals in education,” he added. The addition of a PhD is currently within the realm of possibility.

On vocational education, “I set up a sewing center for women. So we created a sewing center for 15 girls and young girls,” Shaw explained.

“We bought a machine and started a center”—which we named “Mary’s Time” in Urdu—and “from September to May they sew in eight, nine, ten months. Done, basic sewing, stitching and small embroidery done,” he added.

One problem remained. They had skills, but they had no way of demonstrating them after their training was over. “So we should give them a sewing machine. ‘Now we’re going to give you a sewing machine, so you won’t be dependable. Then you’ll be the breadwinner of your family.’ It’s going to be,'” Shaw told CNS.

The Archdiocese plans to open four more Sewing Education Centers in various regions of the Archdiocese.

Next steps: “We will also start at least one (sewing) center for boys as an experiment. Even people cannot get out of their miserable state.

“We have to do some charity work, but it’s not the food we eat every day, it’s also giving fishing rods,” he added, repeating an oft-quoted statement about giving people fish. , you feed them for a day, but if you teach them how to fish, they feed you “for life”.

Our expanded commitment to education doesn’t stop there. Shaw wants to try another experiment. It is a school for dropouts in the brick kiln district of Lahore. There, all members of the family, from the youngest to the oldest, are trying to pay off the debts they inherited from their ancestors. Kiln owners impose new expenses in a never-ending cycle of poverty.

Among kiln workers, “education is of little value,” Shaw said. “And now we have made more efforts to visit children and parents from house to house, house to house, and give them training orders. After a year of training, the children are more confident. and ready to move to regular school.”

He pointed out that there are also centers nearby that focus strictly on professional endeavors, such as becoming an electrician or plumber.

Working with local churches, ACN has developed specific programs to address the kidnapping and forced conversion of Christian girls in Pakistan.

Christians in Pakistan face many challenges and the church remains “one of the unique institutions” to represent disadvantaged and marginalized communities, an ACN spokesperson told CNS .