Pakistan News: The Netherlands to Lahore
Maria Daniel is in the Netherlands working on her doctorate. Before the holidays her dissertation topic was approved. In it she will compare the educational system in Pakistan with that of the Netherlands. She is living in a small room in student housing and was fortunate to spend Christmas with her and Nasreen Daniel’s sister, Reena, and her family who live in the Netherlands. She will be returning to Pakistan in February.
Nasreen and Samina Iqbal are busy with St. Anthony’s School in Lahore, Pakistan. A major focus of their work is to provide training and support for faculty. Every Saturday Samina and Nasreen have in-service sessions with staff. During these sessions, which are based on requests from teaching staff, they share methods and ideas to make the classes more interesting and captivating for students, to emphasize the importance and necessity of lesson plans and to provide ongoing lessons in the English language. Besides the opportunity to be exposed to new teaching techniques and practices, each teacher who is less experienced is paired with an experienced teacher so the newer teachers have mentors who are seasoned and knowledgeable to assist and motivate them. Nasreen observes each teacher in the classroom, provides feedback and offers suggestions on new ways of presenting the material to increase student participation.
Based on students’ test results, our sisters concluded the children had never been taught the basics of phonics in English or in Urdu. They have decided this is a must and will focus on phonics during this semester. One teacher (a woman who taught Maria when she was in grade school) is well-prepared in phonics teaching methods and will assist with the development of this work.
Through the program our sisters designed, “Loretto Empowering Women in Pakistan,” 30 neighborhood women are being taught sewing skills and to read and write in Urdu. Our sisters have told the women that with regular attendance and good results in the exam in May our sisters will install in the women’s homes a solar panel, which will supply enough electrical power to run one fan and provide light from one light bulb. You can only imagine what an incentive this is to the participants!
Sister Michelle, a John of God sister who lives in the same compound, worked on costumes for the Christmas pageants. Every weekend before Christmas there were practices for the performance. In addition, the students at St. Anthony’s created Christmas crèches since the cost of these items in the stores is fairly expensive. Samina and Nasreen said the crèches created in each classroom were very original, with dolls brought to school by the students, who designed and made costumes for all the crèche figures.
Nasreen, Samina and Maria have told us they keep all of Loretto in their prayers daily and ask that we keep them in ours. Although a distance of halfway around the world separates us, the unity through prayer and mission powerfully bonds us together in Loretto.