Visiting schools in Pakistan
On Feb. 24, Nasreen Daniel, Samina Iqbal, Anna Koop and I drove to Multan, about four hours south of Lahore, to visit the Lasallian Brothers. Brother Shahzad wrote our letter of invitation for our visa application. When Nasreen, Samina and Maria Daniel arrived in Faisalabad to start teaching, they had nothing — no beds or kitchen equipment, much less food in the kitchen. The brothers helped acquire what they needed and introduced them to the community. The two communities have been close ever since, and Nasreen wanted Anna and me to meet them. We carried along a cherry pie Maria had made, along with greetings from her, Shaista and Saima.
The LaSalle Brothers (aka Christian Brothers in the U.S.) are a teaching community, and their main school in Multan has 2000 students from pre-K through college prep, boys and girls. We toured the classes and the two parish elementary schools where the brothers also teach. We met all the faculty and received gifts of flowers and pens and glassware, and Anna and I each received a blue hand-stamped dupatta, or shawl, a fine craft of Multan. The children had questions ready for us like, “What is your national animal?” and “What is your favorite fruit?” and “What do you like best in Pakistan?” Of course we asked questions in return. The national animal is the markhor in case you were curious. It’s a kind of goat.
We haven’t really toured St. Anthony’s (the school) yet, here in Lahore, because the children are taking exams. The exams last two weeks, even for the first and second graders. We helped type the exams the first days we were here and the math is hard. Shaista and Saima said their second and fourth graders know the material and are doing well.
Maria and Nasreen reviewed all the tests beforehand to be sure the questions were clear and the points fairly awarded. Only a few of the teachers have certificates, and for most it is their first job, so Nasreen guides them bit by bit.
In Pakistan our charism of education is being carried forward full force. The nation needs good schools and our work here is recognized and appreciated. Father Morris, our pastor, also recognizes and values our good work. I’m grateful to be a witness.