Friday, June 13, 2008

If you could hie to Pakistan--Would you?

When we went to get our visa's for our second trip into Pakistan, the embassy person who was interviewing us asked us if we had enjoyed our first visit. We told him that we had a wonderful experience and were looking forward to returning. With a smile and an attempt at humor, he asked us if we wouldn't mind telling that to CNN! While it is true that this is a country with many challenges, it is also a country that fascinates the visitor. Our first city that we visited was Karachi. After leaving the airport, my eyes were drawn to the most amazing, colorful trucks I have ever seen! Their shape is unique and the painting details are breathtaking! It made me smile every time I saw one! Note the intricate detailing.
I thought that Pakistan would resemble India, only on a smaller scale and in many ways it did. However, this country has its own unique culture and charm. The country is 97 percent Muslim, leaving the remainder 3 percent Christian. Five times a day there is a bell that rings throughout the city and it is accompanied by a soulful voice on a city-wide PA system. This is the Muslim Call to Prayer. What a thrill to experience it firsthand! Click on this link and listen to what it sounds like!
The women we met were beautiful and gracious--and it was a special experience to spend a few moments with them.

Sadly, not all women are treated with dignity and evidenced by this government billboard posted by a busy thoroughfare.

While there, we visited a Christian Colony. This was a life changing experience for me! There were several families living there that we wanted to visit and gain a better understanding of their life and challenges. As we approached the compound, I was overwhelmed as I began to surmise the many challenges that they must face everyday. Looking across the street from the colony, there were large and beautiful homes, supplied with all of the conveniences of an abundant life. The colony however, was lacking in water, sewage disposal and electricity. The exterior reminded us of what the houses must have looked like in Christ's day. They all had flat roofs--which many of the families were using for much needed living space.

After visiting one family, the young mother and her small son went up on the roof top to wave goodbye to us!

As we entered the colony, we were immediately met by an enthusiastic group of children, their ages ranging between 3 and 12 years. We became their "pied pipers" and they excitedly followed us everywhere we went!

These were some of the boys in our entourage!Look at the sweet faces of these young girls...Beautiful!

The children loved having their pictures taken.

But they were most excited when their pictures would magically appear!

"Why aren't these children in school?" I asked. "Because the families are too poor to pay the fees for them to attend," replied our friend. It was sad for me to look into these dynamic little faces, so full of curiosity and realize that they will never experience the joy of learning that Emma, Ellie and Ryan will. Because of inadequate space in their homes, these children play in the one area of the colony that has an open space...but as you can see, it is less than ideal.

As soon as you enter the complex, you are struck by the narrow alleyways that meander up and down over the uneven ground. It feels congested when filling up with playing children, stacks of wood, and small stoves outside the front doors that are used for cooking meals. Most homes consist of two or three rooms...a bedroom, a kitchen area and a small courtyard. The homes were clean and simple. Family size often includes parents, children, a grandmother and one or two married children. The largest room is the bedroom and it is set up to accommodate everyone in the family. (Some family members will sleep on the roof if there is not enough room.) A couple of kitchen areas we saw had a sink (with no running water) while others just had shelves. I think these women are remarkable when you think of them preparing meals for their families with so little conveniences.

As we were leaving the colony, I was waiting by entrance for our car to pick us up. I noticed an old woman walking up the road very determinedly towards me. When she reached me, she didn't say a word, but with a sweet smile on her face, she put her arms around me and we just stood still-- embracing. I simply cannot describe the sweetness of that moment. Two women from vastly different cultures immediately connecting through our sisterhood...


  1. This post actually made me tear up Mom. A beautiful record of your time in Pakistan.

  2. I'm crying right now, too! What a beautiful, beautiful post. I loved every word.

  3. I think Pakistan seems like a very special place. So glad you have been able to go and share it with us.

  4. Tears here as well. I love that you are experiencing the world in such a unique way (and, frankly, that the world gets to experience YOU)...thanks for letting us experience it too.