Our goal for EDU4Pak is to bring equality to the marginalized peoples of Pakistan. Pakistan is a richly diverse country, with a wide variety of ethnic, linguistic and religious communities with historic ties to the land, who have contributed to the life of the country in many ways. However, discrimination against minority communities, particularly religious minority communities, continues to violate and undermine their rights. Hindus, Ahmadis, and Christians are among the most disadvantaged. Discrimination stems both from above and below, with government legislation and inaction serving to reinforce social stigma. At the social level, for example, marginalization ranges from refusal to eat with these groups, to the prevalence of hate speech in sermons, textbooks, graffiti and on TV, to attacks on homes, places of worship, and people.
The government has repeatedly affirmed its commitment to the safety and equality of religious minority citizens, but failure to adequately address hate crimes, in addition to actively discriminatory laws and practices, foster divisions and prejudices.
The prevailing system of opportunities and constraints favors the success of one group over another. The religious affiliation of citizens is inseparable from their identity and is hugely influential in their lives. The religion of all Pakistanis is noted on their national identity cards, opening them up to discriminatory treatment from government officials to private sector workers, such as at the bank, or utilities companies.
Government institutions are required by law to allocate five percent of jobs to candidates from religious minority communities. The law was intended to integrate religious minorities into better jobs, develop their skills and increase their representation in public life. However, in practice, the quota is often used to restrict religious minority applicants to menial labor, even if they have applied and even interviewed for a different position. This particularly affects the Christian community, who have long been associated with low-paid labor such as street sweeping, and considered “untouchable”. This enables a cycle of poverty to continue, where religious minority communities are excluded from opportunities to learn new skills, increase their earnings and educate their children. However, Christians who have been well educated are treated very differently and given much more respect.
Our latest project in support of our goal of equality for marginalized minority communities is being implemented in partnership with a Christian Boarding Hostel for kids in Abbottabad, in Northern Pakistan. This hostel is a place for parents from the village, too far from the city school, to send their children so they have a chance to get an education. This hostel also houses children who have nowhere to go, including orphans and kids whose parents are imprisoned. The hostel was about to shut its doors in February 2016, because they had run out of money to pay the USD $250 rent, which would have meant that the boarders would have had to be sent away.
This is where our amazing team of supporters has come in! We are in the process of raising money for this hostel so it can keep its doors open for these kids.
We want to nurture generations of highly educated Christian children to break the cycle of poverty and exclusion, to have the opportunity to access good jobs and be treated with respect regardless of their background or beliefs.
If you want to learn more about the background and history of Christians in Pakistan, or want to donate to the hostel, please connect with us.