From Rev Fiona Gardner in Hyderabad
Today we travelled to Kunri Hospital, a good three hours drive away, so we were up early, and able to see the countryside in its best light. In the fields, there were crops of chilli being harvested. Another field was full of sunflowers, and was stunning. Kunri is near to the Thar desert, near the Pakistani/Indian border, so good irrigation is needed for any kind of crop to be possible.
The town of Kunri is in a very poor part of Sindh. The population of the town is 663,095, and 47% of people live under the poverty line. The literacy rate for men is 36%, and for women just 11%.
We visited the wonderful church next to the hospital, Kunri Ashram Church, which was build in a traditional way, a circular building with a thatched roof. It looked amazing, inside and out, and we were able to meet the priest and his team, and hear of their outreach work in the local community.
We then visited the Amman Gah project (the Peace Centre) which seeks to serve others. The district has a larger than usual population of Hindus, and many Christians in the area are from a Hindu background. The project held disciple people who have come to faith, through prayer and Bible study.
There is a project Kunri Crafts, which is a not-for-profit business to provide women with the opportunity to earn money, gain social skills, to socialise. From this beginning, many women went on to become literate.
The centre also runs various other projects, including a school and a Sahara centre. Sahara means 'shelter' in Urdu. It's a place that provides care for children with a disability, and it is the only one in the area. The centre supports a small number of children, but a very loving team cares for these children, and seeks to provide a stimulating environment and respite for their families. There is a school also, which seeks to serve the poor families in the district. It was great to hear of all the initiatives which were being taken to serve and empower others.
Next, we visited Kunri Christian Hospital. The hospital was established in 1962, and its vision is to provide holistic care, without discrimination of colour, caste or religion.
The hospital has four doctors and a very hard working staff. It specialises in gynaecology and obstetrics, as mother and infant mortality is very high in the area. People often go to see the local spiritual tribal leader, rather than think of going to hospital
The hospital helps a large number of women, and can perform caesarean sections where required.
The staff are to be commended for their hard work, and for their vision to continue to improve the facilities at the hospital.
Over the last five days, it has been striking that each Christian organisation we have visited has been keen to serve the whole community, people from every caste and faith background. In a country where Christians make up less than 2% of the population, their influence for good, for sheltering and helping the most disadvantaged, seems disproportionate.
We will be travelling again over the next few days, so hope to blog on Thursday.
Please continue to keep us in your prayers.