Sheltering the marginalised: The Pakistani Mother Teresa

Published: January 23, 2012
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Josephine offers shelter to the children of slave-labourers. PHOTO: INP/ FILE

Josephine offers shelter to the children of slave-labourers. PHOTO: INP/ FILE

LAHORE: Meet Josephine, a 34-year-old divorced mother of two. She runs an orphanage outside Lahore, where she gives shelter to children and has become a saviour to those bonded by labour.

“I visit brick kiln factories, where single parents and the elders of orphans make these little ones work to pay the debt they have taken,” says Josephine

Her task is not an easy one, as she has to convince the guardians that they are better off with her. “I am currently pursuing a mother of five to give her children to me because her husband died and now she has to work day and night along with her children to pay his debt.”

Brick kiln owners are the main hurdle and have threatened her. “They say if I can pay their loan, I can take the children, otherwise they will work till the loan is paid.”

In Pakistan, although illegal, slavery in brick kiln factories is common knowledge and it originates from a vicious circle of debt which sucks in labourers. Josephine has surveyed these factories for a year and has been able to convince almost 20 families to give their children to her.

She only helps the Christian minority currently because she feels they are more marginalised. “Most of the workers at these places are of Christian faith, and that is why I contact the local pastor of the area and take him along too, to get easy access.”

Trained to be a nun but not allowed by her parents to leave the country, Josephine now uses what she has learnt to mother the orphans.

She has rented an upper portion of a house, 20 kilometers outside Lahore, for Rs5,000 per month, where she lives with her own two offspring plus another 10 boys and 7 girls.

“I do not have any funding source. I teach at a local private school, and with whatever money I get, I try to give these children their lives back.” Along with this, she receives help from her brothers and the school principal where she is employed, but things are still hard. “Thankfully the principal has acknowledged my efforts, and has waived off fee for these children.”

Surprisingly, ever since she started the orphanage, she has been asked by a number of parents to take their children away. “People are so poor in these villages that they want to get rid of the children even they are not in debt.”

But she rejects them saying that she doesn’t want those who are orphans to feel different while living with such children who have parents.

The children in Josephine’s care were not allowed to go to school due to their slavery status, Now they have learnt how to read and write.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 23rd,  2012.

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Reader Comments (17)

  • Eye opener
    Jan 23, 2012 - 12:46PM

    Hats off to you lady :)
    P.S.
    Dear author kindly use correct spellings so that the entire sentence makes sense to the readers. thank you.

    Along with this, she receives help from her brothers and the school principle where she is employed, but things are still hard. “Thankfully the principle has acknowledged my efforts, and has waived off fee for these children.”

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  • Syed Shoaib Ahsan
    Jan 23, 2012 - 12:58PM

    Kudos to the woman. I hope we can abolish this sort of slavery soon, inshaAllah.

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  • Bhatty
    Jan 23, 2012 - 2:03PM

    Very commendable. Is there email address or phone where we can contact for extending help?

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  • ali baba
    Jan 23, 2012 - 2:48PM

    god bless you.may allah reward you for this

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  • Saman
    Jan 23, 2012 - 3:44PM

    Great initiative!! Kudos to her. Please provide contact details with such articles so that people can offer their assistance. If possible I would like her number or email details. Thank-you

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  • Jan 23, 2012 - 5:52PM

    Brilliant. WE NEED SUCH PEOPLE MORE.

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  • ashok sai
    Jan 23, 2012 - 6:26PM

    Great work madam, beware of blasphemy laws.

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  • Ayesha
    Jan 23, 2012 - 8:05PM

    Great story! Taha Siddique..thank you for sharing it with the readers. Keep it up. And well done Ms Josephene. You are doing what most of our Muslim country mates should be doing. May god bless you and reward you for this.

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  • s shah
    Jan 23, 2012 - 9:10PM

    May Allah Bless you, Josephine. You are doing a great kindness to these children.

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  • Some One
    Jan 23, 2012 - 10:12PM

    “She only helps the Christian minority currently because she feels they are more marginalised”. “Most of the workers at these places are of Christian faith, and that is why I contact the local pastor of the area and take him along too, to get easy access.”

    Recommend

  • Ali Tanoli
    Jan 23, 2012 - 10:51PM

    Is there any way i can help her send her some money ..

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  • Ali Tanoli
    Jan 23, 2012 - 10:56PM

    When ever i visits pakistan these kind situations make me cry may god give us honest leader
    ship and equality in the pakistan.

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  • Salman Malik
    Jan 23, 2012 - 11:22PM

    This is a wonderful story. However if possible, kindly share any contact information that readers can use to reach out to her.

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  • Jan 24, 2012 - 12:49AM

    Hello Readers,

    You can contact Joseph Nadeem, the school principal, mentioned in the story, where Josephine works, on the following email address: [email protected]

    Thanks for your feedback.

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  • Jan 27, 2012 - 5:04PM

    Thank you every one with their admire and invigorative thought on account of your appreciated comments for Josephine and her remarkable work on orphans.If you wanted to contact with her email at [email protected]

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  • Feb 2, 2012 - 7:11AM

    Dear All (Appeal for Orphanage)

    Lets Put Hands together with Josephine for showing our love and support to the Orphanage and Sponsor a orphan children.Recommend

  • Mar 13, 2012 - 5:43PM

    Great work you are doing,Josephine keep it up and God bless you with your all needs,Renaissance Education Foundation is always with you to support your mission.

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