|For Immediate Release
Hope at Hand for 1000 Pakistani Children Waiting for School to be Finished as UK
Charity Launches Appeal
Over one thousand Pakistani children could be liberated from a lifetime working as bonded labourers if funds come through to finance their hoped for new school in the Punjab. A former British missionary from south-east London, Stan Gain, is now leading efforts in the UK to raise £150,000 required to complete the New Covenant High School building in Faisalabad. The district is notorious for an estimated 600brick kilns, whose owners consider their workers to be slaves and run them as “hard labour” regimes.
Stan Gain, from Greenwich, runs the Woodland Christian Trust and is leading efforts in Britain at the request of Dr Paul Bhatti, the chairman of the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance. Dr Bhatti is the brother of assassinated government minister Shahbaz Bhatti, who acts as advisor to the Prime Minister of Pakistan on minority affairs. Pointing to estimates by UNICEF that at least 250,000 children work in brick kilns in Pakistan, Mr Gain is inviting support for the project as a means of liberating children:
“These kiln owners trap their workers by offering loans that permit the purchase of just basic human essentials. Pay from working on the kilns is insufficient to survive on without these loans and so a lifetime of debt slavery ensures. The rates of interest are so high it becomes impossible for the debt to be repaid. But schooling offers hope to children to escape from this debt cycle.”
The New Covenant High School will provide for 800 children during normal hours and a further 800 at evening school and will educate both girls and boys irrespective of their ethnicity or religion. It will offer hope to many children trapped in slavery who will be redeemed from debt as the loans are repaid by charity. The school, although unable to function until the construction is complete, already has 38teachers willing to teach and 1,100 pupils awaiting. The school will be managed by prominent Pakistani church leader, Pastor Moses, of Apostolic Gospel Ministries International (AGMI). Stan Gain added:
“Working with AGMI in Pakistan, our aim is to raise the balance of funds to complete the building of this new school. With some outside funds and money raised in Pakistan the school building has reached the stage of completion of ground floor walls. Now, with broken promises for assistance, the building work has been suspended. It is estimated that approximately £140,000 continues to be needed to complete the school. Woodland Christian Trust has committed to raise at least£120,000 of this which will see the completion of the building. The equipping stage will follow. The most urgent need is to complete the security wall around the site, the office and administration block and finish the ground floor construction.”
Opposition to the education of girls runs deep in Pakistan, as highlighted by the case of Malala Yousafzai who was recently shot by Taliban fanatics. Official statistics released by the Federal Education Ministry of Pakistan give a desperate picture of education for all, especially for girls. The overall literacy rate is 46per cent, while only 26 per cent of girls are literate. Independent sources and educational experts, however, are sceptical. They place the overall literacy rate at26 per cent and the rate for girls and women at 12 per cent, contending that the higher figures include people who can handle little more than a signature. (UNESCO report).
Last year, a media spokesperson for the Punjab Labour Department, Shaukat Niazi, argued for the importance of schooling, saying that “bonded labour cannot be eradicated without empowering the workers through education” (International Herald Tribune – 3rd Nov 2012). The Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article- 4 states that “No one shall be held in slavery or servitude.”
Contact Stan Gain, Chairman 07814 142180
Donations may be made to Woodland Christian Trust (Reg No. 1148164) at 11b Woodland Terrace, London, SE7 8EW or through the website www.woodlandchristiantrust.org.uk.