Lahore, Pakistan, 18 November 2019 -- One year after the meeting between the Hyderabad bishop and our Rector Major in Rome during the Youth Synod (October 2018) the Salesian Community in Lahore (Fr Noble, Fr Gabriel and Bro. Alex) together with Mr Elias Mushtaq (Technical Director of DBTC), Mr Afzal Anthony (Industry Liaison Officer) and Mr Shahed (Contractor of Don Bosco) set out for an exploratory trip to Hyderabad diocese on 5 November 2019, reaching Hyderabad 6 November at 3:30 pm. We were welcomed by Bishop Samson Shukardin, OFM Cap, who was so happy that at last his long time dream might soon come to reality.
He gave us the background of the diocese and gave us the reason for inviting the Salesians, to establish a Technical Training Center with a Hostel in the Diocese of Hyderabad. This is to respond to the challenge of unemployment and the lack of youth with a deep Christian formation. The Diocese covers sixteen parishes, eight of which cater for tribal communities. The Spiritans (CSSp), Franciscans Friar Minor(OFM), Mill Hill Missionaries(MHM) and the Society of St Columban (SSC) are also serving in the diocese.
In Hyderabad there are many tribal communities that are so poor that the only way to get out of poverty is to provide them with skills so they can earn a decent income. Without specific technical skills they work like slaves deprived of human rights with little compensation. The young people in the villages need to grow and deepen their Christian faith. Bishop Samson is asking us to open a Technical School with a Hostel for the purpose of accepting more students from far-flung villages.
Educational Institutions in Hyderabad (Sindh)
20 Private High Schools, 35 Private Colleges, 26 Public Government Colleges and 9 government Institutes and Universities
Peaceful social situation
For the past ten years there have been no incidents of attacks or bombings in Hyderabad. The people are normally peaceful and simple. There have been no incidents involving church or mosque attacks.
The majority of the people in Hyderabad followed Islam as their religion which accounts for 94.0% followed by Hindus who are the largest minority group forming 5% of the total population, while other religions count for 1%.
The Sindhi youth are afflicted with pervasive poverty, chronic unemployment, drug addiction and limited recreational venues. Due to this problem, the youth have become susceptible to anger, disillusionment and suicide. We can further note that the youth of the province, due to the surging youth population, are facing daunting challenges ranging from physical and psychological insecurities and frustration.
Visit to possible TVET sites
We visited first the town of Latifabad (a large number of Christians are residing on the banks of river), then Kohsar (3 ha area, near the city, close to a poor community). Then we went to Mirphur Khas (60 km from the city), passing Tando Alla Yar ( 40 km from the city). Along the road there are vast open agricultural areas, another possible location.
The Salesian community met with the Bishop and discussed some concrete concerns: The land ownership and the contribution of the diocese to financial matters; Administration and position of the future TVET (city or near the city). Bishop Samson listened to us and invited us to visit first the areas of his diocese so we could gain a better understanding. With our recent visit to the diocese, the Salesian community really felt the need of the diocese for the Technical skills for both Hindu and Christian communities. These communities are victimized by feudalism and they are compelled to remain in their slavery generation after generation. Through Education and Skill training the youth can be free from forced labor and poverty, as indicated by Bishop Samson Shukardin. We would agree with the vision of the Bishop and will continue the discernment.
An empty lot within the city with a minimum of 5 hectares is not available. We continue the search for land with an acceptable price and possibly close to a Christian community. We entrust this possible third Pakistan Salesian presence dream to Mary Help of Christians and request prayers for good discernment and available Salesians and Lay mission partners for the Hyderabad mission.