20 February 2018

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07/24/2015 PAKISTAN

Lahore: ‘Youhanabad Project,’ a summer camp for children victimised by church attacks

Promoted by Christian associations, the initiative is aimed at alleviating the psychological suffering of children. It began on 12 June and will end on 14 August with a grand finale. Activities include group theatre, music, outings, educational visits, meetings and discussions. For Michelle Chaudhry, this will give children back their confidence and hope.

Lahore (AsiaNews) – Hum-Aahang, in collaboration with the Cecil Chaudhry & Iris Foundation (CICF) and Next Generation Pakistan, has organised a summer camp for the children of Youhanabad, a predominantly Christian neighbourhood in Lahore (Punjab) that saw Islamist attacks against churches back in March that killed and wounded scores of people.

Among survivors and their families, the incident left its mark not only on adults, but also and especially on children. ‘Project Youhanabad’ is a summer camp for them that began on 12 June, and is set to end on 14 August with a grand finale.

This initiative is meant to help children from the Christian neighbourhood traumatised by violence. Just four months ago, they personally experienced hatred and terror when suicide bombers hit two churches and killed and maimed members of their family.

The traumatic experience of the attack was followed that of having the government raid Christian homes, detaining and interrogating parents and friends, instead of punishing the culprits.

This accentuated a sense of marginalisation and abandonment in a community already in internal exile. A sense of betrayal, victimisation and harassment now prevails for both children and adults.

Through the support and participation of a team of volunteers, children and young people can take part in group initiatives, like games, discussions on social and political problems, art schools, music, acting and public speaking workshops.

Each week is marked by a different theme, with a day dedicated to theory and practical applications and subsequent testing.

Children are also given the opportunity of taking part in outings and educational visits to places of historical and artistic value, as well as museums, cinema, university campuses and more.

Speaking to AsiaNews, Michelle Chaudhry, president of the Cecil Chaudhry & Iris Foundation (CICF), described ‘Project Youhanabad’ as a "wonderful initiative" to help «traumatised children" regain "trust and hope".

For Ms Chaudhry, "We at CICF work hard to build a peaceful Pakistan that goes beyond social and religious discrimination, sectarian extremism and violation of human dignity".

Suneel Malik agrees. As director of the Peace and Human Development Foundation (PHDF), he believes that it is essential to invest in children’s skills, confidence and interests, the more so when they are victims of traumas for they need to get back to a normal life as quickly as possible.

"It is crucial to improve their mental health,” he added, “by healing the wounds caused by the loss of loved ones in the suicide attack against the churches."

See also

15/07/2006 PAKISTAN
Punjab: Church holds summer camp for Christian and Muslim children

In the area of Toba Tek Singh, one of the poorest areas of the country, the parish – together with local volunteers – is holding a summer camp that features several activities for children. Participants even watched the World Cup football final together.

12/05/2015 PAKISTAN
Mothers and widows remember the attacks on Youhanabad churches
On Mother's Day, Christ Church, one of the two places of worship attacked, organised a prayer ceremony. Naz Bano, whose son died to stop one of the terrorists, and Fozia, now alone to raise a two-year-old girl, tell their story.

15/03/2015 PAKISTAN
Lahore: 14 dead and more than 70 wounded in Taliban attack against two Christian churches
Jamaat-ul-Ahrar militants carried out the twin attack against St John Catholic Church and Christ Church. Almost 2,000 people were in the two buildings at the time of the blasts. A mob lynched an attacker.

20/03/2015 PAKISTAN
Lahore attacks: Muslims demand protection for Christian churches
Members of both communities, along with social activists, take part in a peaceful demonstration. The police has to arrest 18 people for the lynching of two Muslims. For a Muslim cleric, "Christians are not only a religious minority in this country, but are our brothers."

16/08/2017 15:34:00 PAKISTAN
Christian prisoner who refused to reject his faith dies in custody in Lahore

Indaryas Ghulam died under mysterious circumstances in police custody. He had burns and cuts on his body. He was one the 42 people arrested for lynching two Muslims after the Youhanabad church attacks. The prisoner could have saved his life had he denied Christ.

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