The VHI committee had hoped to work with a Pakistani Christian failed asylum seeker couple who on their return to Pakistan wanted to aid some of the impoverished residents in a nearby village. Unfortunately, our partnership with them failed, because although the couple worked hard at the project, they could not engender trust in the community here in Australia.
Faraz was the answer to our prayers
On 3 October 2019 Christine accepted a Facebook friend request from Faraz, who she learned was from Pakistan. Faraz was a Catholic university student, and musician who led his church choir. He also tutored part time and from his limited resources supported some orphans.
He said the orphans lived at Fatima Boys Hostel, which was part of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church Parish, in Gojra.
Although he didn’t know how he would pay for it, the Parish priest in Gojra, Father Simon Khurshid, put his trust in God and with Faraz’s strong encouragement re-opened the hostel in September 2019. The Hostel had operated for many years but closed after the catastrophic Gojra riots of 2009.
We learn about the Fatima Boys Hostel
Father Simon sent us some photos and spoke to us of his work with the orphans. He also sent us a detailed breakdown of the service the hostel provided and the costs for food, clothing, and school fees if we should decide to support them.
We could see that Father Simon provided the boys with the warmth and nourishment of a family home, and opportunities for them to play sport and have fun. Importantly they also attended the nearby Catholic School, St Alberts.
Father Simon had a solidly based structure and plans which were purely for the welfare of the hostel boys. The VHI committee voted to support the Fatima Boys Hostel.
The boys had a cosy home at the hostel but from time to time had to contend with their sad pasts.
“The younger ones are very challenging. Sometimes they cry at night that they want to go to their mother, but they are not mature enough to be told that their mother is no more”.
Farewell to the Fatima Boys Hostel
The hostel boys touched our hearts in so many ways, like sending us messages on Mother’s Day and kneeling to pray for the human and animal loss in the devastating Australian bush fires of 2019-2020
We continued to care for the boys until October 2021 when Father Simon was moved to St Dominic’s Parish in Faisalabad, and the bishop found another organisation to run the hostel. We decided to support Father Simon’s new venture in Faisalabad where he wanted to fulfil his dream of creating a school for the children of brick kiln and sanitary workers, who were unable to afford schooling for their children.
Coming from Nowhere
Creating a new charity out of nothing was new to us all
Fortunately, we were blessed with generous committee members and friends who donated monthly; however, we needed a bit more to pay for the monthly needs of the 34 Fatima Hostel Boys.
While many individual parishioners helped us greatly, disappointingly our parish council decided against allowing us to fund raise by selling food within our church facilities or allowing us to use the parish hall. This meant we would have to hire halls for fund raising events and that cost would be prohibitive. We needed to find another way.
Recycling for profit
Local governments here in Western Australia have yearly “junk collections” where unwanted items too large to fit into a wheelie bin; furniture, toys, carpets, prams, wall art, etc are left on the roadside verge outside homes for collection by a refuse truck. We obtained the calendars for these collections from surrounding suburbs and rummaged through the piles, gathering the best items for stock, and hoping that what one person discarded, another would buy.
To our delight people did indeed buy some of our carefully selected items and we began making regular profits recycling the material from the junk collections at a Sunday car boot sale run by the Belmont Rotary Club.
And so began a marriage made in heaven!
A Beautiful New Friend
A local newspaper published an article about our charity because of our weekly market stall. It was titled “34 new reasons to love”, referring to the 34 Fatima Hostel Boys. A woman named Patricia saw the article and offered to donate items as she and her husband were moving to a smaller house.
Since that time, two years ago, we are so thankful to Patricia, her daughter Michele and their family and friends who have donated many car loads of items to sell.
No more junk collecting
We hope our junk collecting days are well and truly behind us now. We are so grateful to the very kind and generous donors, of money and saleable items, they, and they alone have made our charity a reality.
Vincent House for Street Children
Father Simon Khurshid had a long-held dream of starting a school for the children of the very poor.
It would be for parents whose earnings were so low they could not even afford the costs of uniforms or travel for their children to attend school.
The minority Christian Hindu and Sikh communities formed this group.
In October 2021 Fr Simon was moved from Gojra to St Dominic’s Parish in Faisalabad, which is in an area where many brick kiln and sanitary workers live. Father Simon wasted no time, and the Vincent House School for Street Children was opened on 30 October 2021.
VHI funded school bags and stationery for the children and committed to pay for the teacher’s salary and other ongoing costs with monthly payments.
The opening was a cause of great celebration, and the teacher Huma quickly taught some of the children dance routines for the occasion.
The school began with eighty-eight students, and they were taught within the church buildings by Huma and her volunteer helpers. When Huma left Faisalabad in early 2022 a new teacher Maham took her place.
Vincent House Sewing School
The uneducated young women in the Faisalabad area are at a great disadvantage because their job opportunities are few. Father Simon Khurshid had opended a sewing school fifteen years earlier and knew this offered girls the opportunity to gain independence. So with the help of locals in the community he was able to open Vincent House Sewing School on 14 June 2022.
We at Vincent House did our best, but because of inflation in Pakistan were only able to supply six sewing machines. However the sewing school opened with a wonderful teacher named Rukshana. Rukshana started working with the girls before she even received her first salary, bringing small pieces of fabric to sew and newspaper to teach them cutting. With the help of donors and volunteers we aim to acquire some furniture and more sewing machines soon.