Scales for Justice

Working towards peace and reconciliation



Karachi


Karachi is the biggest city in Pakistan and also one of the most thickly populated cities in the world. Its population has increased rapidly and accordingly has given rise to many social problems. Slum areas are rapidly being built, where poor workers live. Electricity is another problem. Every other day the electricity is cut without notice. Water and sanitation are also a serious issues. As a result malaria, cholera and dysentery are widespread. Karachi is also often subjected to terrorist activities, including bomb blasts and firings at public spots.

During our visit we stayed with the Gill family, which lives in Gulistan e Johar and belongs to the Christian minority. It is the only Christian family in the area. Gulistan e Johar is one of the poorest and most tensed areas in Karachi, with almost no security. The socio economic problems turned the visit into a real adventure.

The Gill family

Overlooking Karachi

Children on the roof

Dogs are the same everywhere

During the ten days of the visit alone two people got shot in area and most of the time we were only allowed to leave the house veiled in the dark. It was therefore all the more impressing to feel the hospitality and courage of the people, who despite all hardship remain positive and hopeful and who do whatever they can for their local community. Especially powerful was the father of the family, Mr. Benjamin Gill, who despite severe health problems incessessantly served as a pastor to several churches in the area and had an outstanding reputation, also among the Muslim neighbourhood. Sadly few months after the visit he passed away due to a heart attack. His testimony however remains immortalized in the video below.


During our visit it was also important to visit and encourage the local Christian community, which is suffering from poverty, lack of education and institutionalized discrimination. It is therefore essential that educated members of the community take care of this need and with their small means try to uphold education in an area where otherwise only desperation would reign. Visiting the local church and the Christian quarter therefore left a lasting impression. As soon as we arrived in the area the first heads popped out from their houses and quickly a crowd filled the streets. People in the area rearely meet Europeans and seeing one seemed to be a real spectacle.

The church itself was a welcoming place, which also runs a small school. Due to a lack of funds and qualified teaching stuff however it is difficult to uphold the education program. To make it worse the school had suffered from floods during the rain season and there were not enough means to undertake reparations. The huge need of a school however showed in the great number of children following us through the streets when we continued our visit. Their faces radiated with joy and kindness, nevertheless we couldn't help but ask ourselves what future is waiting for these children, if no efforts are undertaken to improve their education.

Outside the church

Church members

The school

Flood damage

The quarter

Children following

Children in the street

Child worker

In order to understand the situation of the poorest of the poor we also visited one of the beggar slums in Karachi. People living in such slums usually sleep in tents built on the periphery of cities, without acess to sanitation, electricity education or health care. From the outset on this visit was tricky, as these beggars are often indifferent to life and suspected to mutilate kidnapped children in order to turn them into beggars. As soon as we arrived a crowd showed up, most of all interested in knowing the reason of our visit. Some of the people invited us to visit their homes and showed us their handicapped children. Others spoke to us in a very aggressive way, asking why we were coming and staring instead of helping. The extreme precautions taken ahead of the visit, including wearing traditional clothes and having a car waiting nearby, were proven smart when the beggars started to demand money and we managed to jump into the nearby waiting car by the last second before being torn into pieces...

Surrounded by people

"Adequate" housing ... ?  

Mother and handicapped daughter

Children's eyes

A wedding in the slums

Little hope for the future

Cooking place

Food shortage

Life in Pakistan however also has its joyful side. Together with the Gill family we went to visit the local beach. the public beach is frequented by families, enjoying the company, local food and horse riding, nobody however was swimming in the sea. Our group therefore caused a public scadal when one of the girls lifted up her new Pakistani trousers by three inches in the see in order to avoid getting wet. Locals were obviously not used to such a sight and we rushed out of the water in order to avoid further problems. As a little reminder of the difficulty of the situation we learned that shortly after we left the beach in the evening a bomb blast hit the area about ten minutes away from where we had just been.

What can you do? 

Minorities living in Pakistan need our support, on a practical as well as on a moral level.

  • Use social platforms like Facebook and get in touch with the people
  • Talk to them and show them they are not alone in their struggle
  • Share their concerns using social platforms
  • Support social and educational programs
  • Raise your voice against discrimination
  • Stand up for human rights defenders 
  • Go and visit ...