Pakistan, Asia

PAK07 - EGM Brilliant Students Scholarship Fund: Partnership Reports

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Report Date: March 22, 2016

Report by BHW Field Director Following Visit 


Key person: Edward Qasar

The last visit to Lahore by BHW team members was in February 2013. Two attempts have been made since then but had be aborted due to unrest and a bombing. In the interim period the project has grown and is now into it’s fourth year. 


Recent Events

grateful for opportunity27 students in the current group were talked to and interviewed on this trip. Generally they are an impressive group of young people. They are engaging and quite open but also reserved and shy with a man and a white man at that!

In the first three years of the programme the students were mainly selected from Youhanabad, near to where the programme is based. But as the teams have begun to move about a little further afield in weekend ministry activities, they have discovered greater need in rural cities and towns and smaller urban villages. So, of the current group of students only one is from Youhanabad, the others are from Kasur and Faisalabad. 

It would be fair to say that the criteria for being selected has changed slightly. It’s not just brilliant students who are selected, although they still have to have good marks in matriculation, but now there is more emphasis on the student being deserving as well.   


Personal Stories

very happyI interviewed 27 students in groups and 3 individually. From the group a number of responses emerged:
1) 80% of them are studying full time, the others have part time jobs, usually sweeping and cleaning in people’s homes
2) The majority of the girls want to be either nurses or teachers. They can earn 4–6 times what their father could earn if they get a job like this.
3) Most would not be studying if they didn’t have the scholarship. They would be sitting at home, having pressure put on them to marry and be very disappointed. In talking with a few parents and family members they agreed with this. 
4) They respect and love their parents and feel sorry for them. They expect to hand over all their wages to their parents when they start earning.
5) There is generally a high value placed on education in the families of this group of students.
6) Of the 27 I interviewed, only 4 or 5 had parents who could even read. Only one had a degree which here is two years of study after finishing High School.
7) Lack of finances is the greatest barrier they face. Along with that there are issues of discrimination (in some cases they are forced to wear a hijab) and the distance they have to travel to study is often an issue as well. If they don’t live near to where they study it can become a real issue.

Here are some stories from 3 of the students:

Sajid Aslam

future teacherSajid is from Kasur, a city about an hour south of Lahore (Edward on left, Sajid on right). He is in the first year of pre-engineering. He actually wants to become a teacher / professor. He has three years study after this year. Once he gets into the teaching course there will be temporary jobs available which will help him continue his study. He hopes to be able to begin with a job like this next year. He will work and study for a number of years before getting his degree. 

At the moment he gets up at 3am and goes to work in a brick kiln until 6 am He then goes home and cleans up to get to college at 7:00. He finishes college at 1:30 pm and he then goes off to an academy to do extra tuition which he funds himself. He gets home around 5:00 in the evening. He lives with his parents, three brothers and one sister. There are seven in the house and his dad works for a building company making concrete.  He gets around $US150 / month and is the only one earning money to bring back into the home. 

Sajid goes to church when he can but life is very hard and he is very busy so he is not really involved very much in other ministry. Pastor Waris comes to visit the family, that’s how he found out about the scholarship programme. 

very grateful

Nasreen Nargis

Nasreen is also from Kasur. She lives in a village situation. She is 26 years old and has seven sisters and three brothers. Her father died of a heart attack when she was 14 years old. She is the fifth child but is now the oldest one living at home and has a lot of responsibility for the five younger sisters. Her mother is very old and frail and cannot cook or do much work. She and her sister run a tuition centre which gets them the only money coming into the home.  

At the same time she is doing Masters study in Urdu so she can get a better job as a teacher and be able to care for her younger sisters. She is in her first year of two. She gets a scholarship of about $US600 per year. This will be a great help to the family if she can get this degree and a job. She doesn’t expect to get married, at least until all the other girls are out of the house.  

She doesn’t regularly go to church as it’s held at a time that doesn’t make it easy. She doesn’t have a lot of extra time with all the demands of keeping the home operating but she goes out with the pastor and others to do evangelism. Many people criticise her for going out as a single woman to do this saying it’s not appropriate, this is Christian people criticising her! She heard about the programme through Pastor Waris (left in photo). 

Arooj Aslam 

big helpArooj is studying all subjects at Intermediate level (like grade 11). After passing Matriculation, they then do Intermediate for two years and then go on for another two years at college for a bachelor degree.  She too lives in a village near to Kasur called Atirpur. Her parents are divorced and she has one sister. Her father is not supporting the family and life is very hard. Her mother runs a tuition centre at home and 6–7 kids come. She also does some sewing to help the family survive. Arooj would not be studying without this help. Her mother’s monthly income is less than $US20 from the tuition and depending on the season she can earn up to $50 / month. 

Arooj is 18 and she wants to become a teacher. She is getting good marks and enjoys study. She attends church but it’s hard to go. There is no church in her village, she has many responsibilities at home, cannot afford to pay for transport, and she is a Christian but the closest church is Catholic and she doesn’t really like going to that. She sometimes goes there with her mother and has no choice in the matter or freedom to choose what she can do. 


It would have been good to talk to some of those who we funded in previous years. Next time I’ll do that. But I did ask about them and in general, every one of them is either still studying or has a part time or full time job. That’s pretty impressive if it’s true. It will take another 3–4 years before we can get a real handle on the success or not of this programme.  


Partnership's Influence within the Community

grateful for opportunityThe real influence will not be felt until these young people are employed in jobs that are bringing reasonable monthly income to the households. However, the uplift in their morale and that of the families is palpable. 

I talked to a number of parents and family members of those involved and they are really excited by the opportunities these young people are getting and the investment in their family. They really appreciate it.

Two pastors came with the young people and they are over the moon. This provides them with many real opportunities to disciple the families of these young people.


Current Issues and Challenges

The greatest issue facing the overall project is that there are so many more that could be included with more resources. Edward has a number of good people on the ground with connections to many more and it’s difficult to say no to so many. 


Prayer and Praise Points

1) That this programme is up and running. It’s a great blessing to many families.
2) For the young people that this will become a catalyst for their spiritual growth as well. 
3) For the families, there is wretched poverty in these communities along with the pressure of living as a minority group. 
4) For the safety of those involved as they move about on crazy vehicles to get to their places of study.
5) That many new Christian leaders would emerge from the ranks of these educated young Christians.



I think there is a good case to increase the amount we put into this. Some of the first students have part time employment either just out of study or while they are studying but the real impact will be felt in a couple of years as more get full time, well paying jobs. 

Next time I'm here it would be good to interview a group of people who are in full time employment to understand the difference this has made in their families. 

The systems they have in place are pretty comprehensive and they keep close tabs on the young people. They had all the exam results on hand from just a few weeks previous. This is one of the best scholarship programmes I have seen.