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Literacy project transforms lives of Christian women in Pakistan

Author: Simon Bartz, 15 December 2023

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Haniya* was only 12 years old when her father was killed in a suicide-bombing attack on a church in Lahore during a worship service in March 2015.

‘He was helping the security personnel at the church gate when a suicide bomber tried to get inside,’ says Haniya. ‘The suicide bomber had an explosives-jacket strapped to his body and he triggered the bomb at the church gate.’

Christians make up less than two per cent of Pakistan’s overwhelmingly Muslim population and they are often targeted by extremists. The blast that killed Haniya’s father was one of two suicide attacks on churches in Lahore on the same day, which killed 14 people and injured 70, according to media reports.

Haniya’s father was a Christian man but had not received any kind of education. After his passing, Haniya and her younger sister were offered places on a literacy programme run by the Pakistan Bible Society and supported by your kind giving here in England and Wales.

The sisters learned how to read the Bible and how to write. Using her literacy skills, Haniya secured a job in a local garment factory. Her skills impressed the factory manager and she was promoted.

‘Now I am a supervisor of the garments which we bring home and distribute to other women,’ she says. ‘I have now started giving work out to more women in the area, on which I get a small commission.’

The literacy rate for Pakistani women is 64 per cent – already substantially lower than the global average of 83 per cent, according to UNESCO. However, within this predominantly Muslim country, the literacy rate for Christian women is only 34 per cent. 

Since 2014, more than 58,000 women have learned to read the Bible through this literacy project in Pakistan. After completing the course the students have been provided with a certificate of achievement and an Urdu Large Print New Testament from the Pakistan Bible Society.

In addition to the practical social benefits of being able to read and write, the Christian women graduating from this programme are now able to more easily share Bible stories with family and friends.

Haniya was recently honoured to read from the Scriptures at the Pakistan Bible Society’s annual general meeting.  

‘I miss my father. If he had seen me read the Bible in the big church in front of the gathering, he would have been very proud. I am thankful for our church leaders, teachers, and Bible Society for providing the beacon of light in our lives.’

*Name changed for security reasons.

If you would like to support people like Haniya in Pakistan and also in other challenging environments throughout the world, then please consider joining Bible a Month. Every month your gift of £10 or more will give another person access to the Bible. Right now there’s another Haniya longing to engage with the Scriptures, and your support could change her life.

Join Bible a Month

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