From Rev Fiona Gardner in Hyderabad
We had another great day today visiting two of the Primary Education Project schools (PEP) out in a rural area. PEP is part of the education work of the Diocese of Hyderabad, and supports schools in 77 communities in rural Sindh. The aim of the project, is to provide sustainable quality education, especially for girls, without discrimination, in unreached marginalised communities, developing the skills of teachers, and creating a network of effective leaders through wide reaching training programs.
At the moment, only 20% of girls in rural Sindh are literate. The main theme of the project is to transform people through education, by helping people to realise their potential, and to work together for stronger communities. There are key programmes for training teachers, and helping them become agents of change in their communities, there are programmes for women's empowerment, disaster risk reduction, sanitation and peace education.
We had to get up early in the morning to make this trip, and so it meant a two hour bus journey each way. It was worth it when we arrived at the two schools however, and saw the faces of the children.
In Pakistan, people are very friendly and hospitable, and they like to welcome their guests. At the school, many of the students lined up to throw rose petals over us. They then give the female visitors beautiful rose garlands, and the men also! We always smell nice as a result. They often give us beautiful traditional Sindh shawl - people are so generous.
The first school we visited was a school just starting off, but we saw the children learning their letters using letterland phonic system. The children also did some presentations in front of the whole community - songs and role play. They were encouraging other mums to let their children come to school.
The second school we visited was longer established, and was in a new building, and the children and teachers were just as welcoming and enthusiastic.
Sindh has been affected by flooding, and a far thinking local person created a small pond, and they caught fish while we were there and which we ate for our lunch! The aim of the project is to equip schools to be self sustaining, and they have a great philosophy to enable there to be new role models in community, and to encourage a change of capabilities and mindset.
People of all faiths are served by this project, but Christian input, especially stories of the prophets in the Old Testament, and the parables of Jesus are used in the training materials and resources for the children. The fish was cooked with different spices, and was delicious.
After our visits, we went back to the office, where we had the privilege of presenting certificates to some of the teachers who had completed their training.
It was great to see the enthusiasm of all the teachers and trainers. Throughout the day, we were ably guided by Dr Jane Jerrard, who founded the project and brought it to life, and she was incredibly knowledgeable about all the projects in the schools and communities.
At the end of the afternoon, we had another encounter with the eccentricities of Pakistani driving. Often cars come along the dual carriage way on the wrong side of the road, there can be tremendous congestion, and much beeping of horns.
Buses are especially worriesome, as people sit and stand inside, outside and on the roof. People come on and off the buses whilst they are still moving. Add into this mix, motorcycles, lorries, goats, chickens and cattle, and it puts traffic jams in Glasgow into perspective!
Will blog soon. Meantime, we continue to value your prayers for safety in travelling, and to learn much about the many ministries here in the Diocese of Hyderabad.