New hope for destitute Christian widows in Pakistan
Christians in Pakistan face daily discrimination and sometimes violence from the country’s Muslim majority. For Christian widows the situation is doubly difficult as, left without the protection of a husband, they are particularly vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.
Like thousands of other widows in Pakistan, Naila struggles with little or no income to meet even the most basic needs of her children. She supports her son, daughter and also her widowed mother, whom she lives with.
Naila works as a maid in a private house, a low-paid and dangerous job in Pakistan where she would be vulnerable to mistreatment, exploitation and sexual abuse. She earns just $1.30 a day – not enough to pay her children’s school fees or for electricity, which has already been cut off twice.
Such is Naila’s misery and shame that she has tried four times to hang herself, but she is now determined to live for the sake of her children. “It is very difficult to meet all the expenses of my family by myself,” she says. “My Lord gives me strength to take care of my family.”
“We do not even have enough money to live but we have a strong belief in our Lord Jesus Christ that He will provide for us.” – Naila, a Pakistani Christian widow
Barnabas Fund is helping Naila and other widows facing the same daily struggle.
We are supporting a locally-run church project providing crucial help to 300 destitute widows.
Barnabas provides practical help and Bible training to widows
The widows receive monthly food parcels from Barnabas Fund, costing just $36. We are also planning to meet other needs as they arise, such as health care if there is sickness in the family or rent if they cannot pay it.
The project will also help widows recover their possessions if seized by their landlord in lieu of unpaid rent. These would be basic items like quilts, clothes, chairs and fans which the family need for daily living.
The project teaches widows about their Christian faith and gives them a sound understanding of the Bible. It also gives practical advice on home economics, hygiene and health care to enable them to run their homes well and give their children a good start in life.
Naila told Barnabas, “In our society no one helps poor people, especially young widows. Rather they pass abusive comments.”
The widow’s mite
Balqees is a widow with six children. She used to work as a hospital cleaner, but one day a male nurse asked her to sleep with him. When she refused, he banned her from the maternity ward. In the maternity ward, cleaners would often be given tips by the patients, so this ban had a serious effect on Balqees’ already meagre income.
One day, Balqees had just 3o cents. She put ten cents in the church offering, leaving herself with only 20 cents to survive on. “On that day a man of the Lord was distributing money to all cleaning staff. He gave me money and I bought flour for bread. That day I was very thankful to my Lord for providing money since I was left with no food,” recalls Balqees.
“Whenever I remember this verse, ‘The LORD watches over the sojourners, he upholds the widow and the fatherless … ‘ (Psalm 146:9 RSV), I feel comfort from our Lord Jesus Christ and I strongly believe that He will help me and provide for me and also take care of my children.”
Mona desperately wants to give her children a better life
The Bible also brings great comfort to Mona, who was left to bring up her two infant children alone when her husband died six years ago.
She is training as a beautician, a well-paid, respectable and safe profession for women in Pakistan, because she wants to provide a better life for her daughter Saira, now six, and son Dawood, five. But Mona does not get paid because she has no qualifications yet.
She hasn’t been able to pay her rent for two months and has health problems, but she draws comfort from her faith and Scripture, especially the Psalms: “Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.” (Psalm 68:5 RSV)More