India & Pakistan
We shared with many of you in our regular newsletter at the end of November 2010 how we visited India and Pakistan for three weeks. We had been to India before so it was not such a surprise but Pakistan was not what we had expected. We were there for a number of reasons including teaching pastors in each country but one memory of both places is still very vivid, moving and won’t go away. We visited free schools which had been set up in the last several years for children of desperately poor families. Education is not available in either country except to those who can afford to pay for it. It is the key to beginning to change the crushing poverty of countless millions of people. We came back with a deep conviction that we in New Zealand who are so privileged by comparison could make a big difference.
First let us describe what we saw. In the extreme south-east of India in the state of Andhra Pradesh is a vast rice growing area near the coast. Most families have one or two acres of rice paddy to live off. After all the costs they will probably not receive more than $1 a day to support their families. One of our past students, Jampani, who trained as a teacher, began St Paul’s free school for the children of these families. Now 90 primary age children gather each day in a thatched roof open sided building of about 80 square metres with one book each and 4 teachers. They arrive at school in ragged clothes, hungry for food and to learn. Their building is surrounded by rice fields infested with snakes and scorpions.
It would cost about $35 per month to sponsor each child and so support the teachers modestly, provide books and pens, feed the kids one good meal a day, give them a simple uniform and sandals of which they would be immensely proud. A local nurse would visit regularly to check their health needs. Anything spare would be used to improve and extend their building. There are hundreds more kids in the district who would love to be in school. One week after we left a cyclone destroyed the rice harvest from 300,000 acres in the area.
Lahore in the Punjab province of Pakistan is an old city with a proud tradition and some beautiful homes. But fifty kilometres outside the city is a brickworks which produces huge numbers of bricks every day, all hand made and baked in the ground. Those who work there are indentured labourers, people who have been tricked into debt which enslaves them and their families for life. They too live on less than $1 per day. Their children who cannot afford to go to school help with making bricks from a very early age. Habib Sadiq is a local pastor who has been studying with us by correspondence for 10 years. A few months ago a father of some of the children asked his brother who had been educated if he would teach the children while the father worked the bricks for both of them. A little school, the Sara Pari free school opened and now has 60 children. They meet in a brick courtyard with a dirt floor and no roof, again with one book each.
The dream is the same. For $35 per month per child we could employ the teachers, equip, clothe and feed the kids, and provide some basic medical care. A small amount could begin the process of improving the building at least to protect them from the weather.
Many people in developed countries understandably have misgivings about the proportion of sponsorship money which somehow disappears in expenses before anything reaches needy children. Our approach, which we have successfully operated in Uganda, Africa for the past 10 years, is to use nothing for costs in NZ. All the money goes to the kids’ needs. In each country we have already proved the local organizers and supporting teams to be absolutely honest and honourable. Their care of the children is not just physical, social and educational but they are helping them towards a real Christian faith so that they, in time, can lead in the care of the next generation. Between us we will visit each school at our own expense from time to time to check progress and needs.
If you decide you can help these beautiful kids, let us know by phone, letter or e-mail. We will send you a brief biography and photo of your child. If you want to give us a photo and an introduction as to who you are, we will pass them onto the families. We promise you that your photo will have a very special place on the wall of a hut in India or Pakistan. We will report your child’s progress twice a year.
The simplest way to sponsor a child is by a monthly automatic payment to our trust account, details of which we will provide to you. Annually we will send you a receipt which is tax deductible. Thank you for reading this letter and giving it your consideration.
If you are willing to help a child please fill out the form below and we will be in contact with you as soon as possible
Our warmest regards
Tony and Nick Hanne