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A Pakistani Christian’s Vision for Education Keeps Growing

March 8, 2024 |  By Sue Morris

“I’m sorry, Amna. We don’t have the money to send you to high school. We barely have had the money to send you to school this far.”

The news from her family saddened Amna. Sending her to the Pakistani government school for the past several years had meant great sacrifices for her parents. Her father was a poor day laborer, and her mother was an illiterate housewife. They wanted better for Amna. Each year, they scraped together the 150 rupees for the government school somehow. But now, to come up with fees for the private school she needed for a better, extended education was just not possible. 

Amna remembered her teacher from a past school. She was very interested in Amna and had inspired Amna to be a teacher. How could Amna do that with her limited education? Still, the dream and passion would not die!

Hope to follow her vision

Amna heard about schools operated by ANM’s partner, Starfish Asia. They would hire her to teach and give her on-the-job training at Saint James School in Lahore. Amna was thrilled at the opportunity. She taught there for three years. 

Then, Amna met a fine Christian young man, Maen, and they married. They moved to Gujranwala, about an hour and a half from Lahore. That seemed to be the end of the story for Amna’s teaching career. But God had other plans in mind! Maen worked for the Pakistan Sunday School Ministry. He loved God and wanted to do His will. He and Amna prayed and felt the Lord telling them to start a school in Gujranwala. 

Obeying God

Maen and Amna started telling people they were going to start a school. On the first day, they had only 17 students, much to their disappointment! They prayed, “God, if this plan is from you, please show us and send more students.” Within two weeks, they had 34 students, and more kept coming! They charged a small fee, but Maen mainly supported the school from his income. 

With so many students of various ages, Amna knew they needed more teachers. She approached Christians she knew and asked them to come and teach. The teachers came to help, six of them. Often, they taught for free, as there was little financial support. Amna and Maen ran the school this way for five years. Then, they approached Starfish Asia for some financial support.

Help needed and given

Mike Wakely, the founder of Starfish Asia, together with the local director of Starfish Asia, visited the school to investigate if Amna and Maen were doing a good job. They were familiar with Amna since she had completed some teacher training with Starfish Asia, but they wanted to ensure the work was worth supporting. And, they were not disappointed in what they found. Immediately, Starfish Asia started giving Maen and Amna funds to rent the school building and to pay some of the teachers’ salaries.

A bigger commitment

Maen and Amna, encouraged by the help they received, had a vision to use the family land they had purchased to build a school building. They built a lovely three-story structure. The family lives in two rooms on the first floor, and the other two floors are for the school. They planned well, with classrooms that were light and airy with high ceilings, and they even put in two electric meters, one for their home and one for the school. They did not want Starfish Asia funds to pay for their personal electricity. 

Starfish Asia’s Quality work

The CEO of Starfish Asia, Rob Bavington, visited the school recently. He was so impressed. The teachers showed him their lesson plans, which were well thought out and structured. He was happy to learn that Amna checks the lesson plans every day to make sure the teachers are on the right track. Rob stated, “It’s something you would expect any principal to do. But not all our principals are that diligent.” 

He went on to say, “Amna is a fantastic example of what we hope to be able to encourage more and more of our leaders to do. Because that’s kind of at the heart of Starfish Asia; it’s not just supporting people who are already successful, who already know what they’re doing. But it’s really trying to invest in people and places to help them to grow and improve.” That is the core value of Starfish Asia. 

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