Last month, when Rowena and I were in India we met an inspiring Christian man, Saleem Masih (pictured above), who had travelled a very long way to meet us. Saleem wanted to tell us about his work with some very poor communities in western Punjab. Saleem was compelling, as he told us about a very needy group of people who have limited access to the most basic of life’s necessities. He described his small passionate team of 5 people who work on a minimal salary ($15AUD a week) to bring help through education to 200 kids in 3 small school centres. Most of these kids do not go to school.
Further to this, Saleem told us about a small and neglected population group in the Gatti District which is an isolated and very dangerous area due to its proximity to the Indian - Pakistani border. Little has changed in this area for the past 75 years. Access to services is available only possible by crossing the river by boat (at a fee), and this does not operate during the monsoon season. Most families do not have the money to regularly cross this wide river so therefore the children do not attend a school. Therefore, the kids, like their parents, are uneducated. The area is heavily patrolled by the military, especially by drones.
A Plea for Help
The reason why Saleem had travelled so far was to ask if we would consider taking on his projects and he indicated his need to be part of a larger team to collaborate with, and to work with others who would provide mentoring and guidance for how to develop and improve his projects. He knew he’d have a better chance of convincing us if he met us face to face. His efforts were not in vain because we were definitely stirred by his determination, love and compassion for these forgotten people. It was hard for us to not immediately say “yes” but we asked for more information and clarity around the amount of support required. We now are now in a position to make an informed initial commitment.
Our Commitment for 2023
We have decided to support Saleem initially for 14 months, commencing 1st November. ‘Project Help’ has started a fourth centre at Village Hajara Gatti in the Ferozepur District (location map). The people who live here are incredibly poor and most are illiterate. The district is in a very isolated area, and is situated between the Satluj River and the Pakistani border (which is a fence).
- 50 children will attend our centre, 5 days a week. This is anticipated to grow to 100 students
- $100AUS start up fees to set things up
- $100AUS month (covers rent and a teacher’s salary)
- We will review our commitment in 6 months and confirm our long-term support in November 2023
- We will also work towards providing additional funding to improve the existing 3 centres, and (hopefully) provide meals for the children.