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St Columba Religious Training Centre
SIALKOT DIOCESE OF THE CHURCH OF PAKISTAN
ST. COLUMBA R.T.C.HUNTERPURA SIALKOT
ANNUAL REPORT 2016
Recently in a meeting of our RTC staff, we were each asked to tell what we considered most important in our lives. Answers ranged from having a good breakfast to start the day to respect for all our parents have done for us. The answer really required was what is it that we feel we absolutely must do each day.
I had answered that it is important each day to know Gods will for us in that day. If this is so then it follows that a meeting with Him is essential at the start of each day…a reading from His Word and prayer.This we try to impart to the girls. I was pleased when a former student now married and bringing up her children went out of her way to tell me that because of the habit she acquired in the hostel, she has family prayers in her home with her husband and children when they read the Bible and pray together.
Every year in the life of St Columba RTC is different. The staff and girls remain with some changes. The basic program remains. The activities vary. There is variety of guests and programmes. We are thankful to God and to all who are His instruments on earth for the timely help and encouragement we have had during the year.
One of our main concerns had to be security issues and lack of funding. 2016 was the first year since 1974 that we did not have regular quarterly funding from any agency and we had to struggle to meet all our bills. The security forces could not appreciate the difficulty we had in employing more guards at wages twice as much as any of our other staff. With great difficulty we have limited them to one by day and one at night. In addition, we have one of our own servants sit at the school inner gate as a guard during school time We were grateful to the Church of Scotland, the Freeland Barbour Trust and the Barnabas Fund for annual block grants which enabled us to continue our programmes of having the girls participate in competitions with a wider range of students and subjects and we are thankful to the churches of the Diocese who responded to a call from Bishop Alwin and donated one Sundays offerings to the RTC. We are thankful to all those who gave donations to help us keep those girls whose parents and guardians cannot pay full fees.
We have planned for some years to reduce the number of students in the hostel. This is happening as no longer is it really necessary for girls from normal homes to come for schooling, as there are schools everywhere. Only at high school level is there in some areas a need for a suitable school, but, on the other hand, there are girls of different ages and localities who are at risk in different ways . The hostel is also now needed for girls whose homes have been broken by death, or by the separation or divorce of parents, or because of alcohol or drug abuse in their homes or in their community. Unfortunately such needs are now too common in the Christian community.
We were thrilled to have a visit from Sofia Taj. Sofia came to the hostel in Class Six in 1971 from Jalalpur jattan, a village where the Scotch Mission run a hospital. Her parents were cleaners in the hospital and so faithful that they were trusted with the keys. Sofia worked hard and trained as a nurse after leaving school. She later went to work in a Semi government hospital in Rawalpindi. In 2015 she was awarded the Quaid I Azam Gold medal for her excellent nursing work and in 2016 she received a further letter of commendation from the President of Pakistan. She remains a simple, happy, Christian girl and as an officer in her hospital , she still leads Bible study for the Christian nurses and sees to their welfare.
We have contact with several former students who are now abroad with their husbands, but who continue to pray for us and support us when they can. Cinderella was a pastors daughter and had all her education up to BA in the hostel, after which she taught in the Bible Training Centre in Gujranwala until her marriage. She continued then to be active in her church until her family shifted to USA. Shagufta was from a poor hard working home and her father died while she was at school. She became a teacher and taught here in the hostel and school until her marriage. Novila was from a simple village home. She and her sisters all studied here . Novila also trained as a teacher after graduation and taught here until her marriage. She is now appointed to a Government Higher Secondary School where she is the only Christian member of staff , and is an example of honest hardworking cooperation and care for her students. One of her sisters who is abroad with her family has arranged for Novilas family to go to USA, but she has refused as her place she feels very strongly is here in her own country.
In the hostel just now we have a number of very young students like Miriam and Iman . Mariam has been living with her father, with no other relatives. He is uneducated but very wise and takes great care for her every need. Miriam after nearly two years in the hostel is just beginning to speak freely and intelligibly. Iman is a very bright nursery class girl with no mother, and a very caring father. Zara and Miriam are two sisters who came just before Christmas. They have nothing, and we are trying hard to find where they can be fitted into a school class as they have had no regular schooling at all in spite of the fact that their mother claims to be a teacher and wants to know immediately which class they are in!!! She can give us no information ref their schooling up to date. We thank God that the girls are settling in happily so there is hope for their progress. Qazia from Sambrial has no mother but her grandmother is very attentive. Manahil has a father with a serious heart condition and no mother. Samra her older sister is in Class Nine and takes good care of her. Kainat has no parents and two older brothers look after her. Her sister is in training as a nurse. Shabana ( Class 10 ) has a step mother who does not let her study. Mehak and her three sisters have no mother. Mehak joined us when her grandmother died and there was no one to look after her. Father wanted to take the others home but we said to bring Mehak who thus came when she was two years old. Phool and Dia had a very elderly father and a young mother. After father died , mother remarried thus causing problems for her daughters . One passed her matric and Phool and Dia are still with us. Mehak Qaiser has no mother and comes from a very backward village where thereis no tradition of educating girls Her grandmother has sent her to the hostel hoping that she will have a better future.The Shafqat family have been here it seems for ages. Sana is now in class 10 and has been here since lower primary classes . Sanober (previously called Somal) is in class 9 . Komal is also in class 9 and Sehrish is in Class six. They have no mother and their father has responsibility for his parents and his unmarried sisters !!!!. He brings the girls all the way from Rawalpindi to the hostel and comes to visit when he can, maybe two times in three months. There is a story attached to almost every girl.
All the hostel girls are admitted in our own Diocesan School and have supervised study help in the evenings. They also get Christian teaching apart from hostel morning (Daily Bread) and evening prayers (course organized by ourselves). The older girls are doing OTS courses and the younger ones do MUTALASHI (Seeker) courses organized by the Sunday School Ministries. The resident staff also do OTS courses which they greatly enjoy. The 10th class girls are enrolled in the PFES(Pakistan fellowship of evangelical students) and have weekly Bible studies. The girls do the housework they will need to do when they have their own homes e.g. cooking cleaning their rooms washing clothes and helping the little girls with theirs. They learn to set tables, and how to serve guests, all the simple needs for them in their own homes. They also have games, occasional films or TV programmes, and they participate in programmes for different occasions as well as for the Christian Year programmes. E.g. National days, international days like Water day etc. Those interested can add to their sewing skills. Many of the girls are really talented in art and crafts, and their contributions to decoration and posters is considerable.
We participated in the Bible Society competition as in previous years which involves three trips to Lahore.In March2016 those who were in the 2015 competition went to Lahore for the Annual General meeting of the Bible Society2016 where some of them received prizes. At the end of September2016 those who were participating in the recitation and Bible reading events went to Lahore, and in October 2016 those who took part in the Art, Essay writing and Quiz events had to go. They will go for the Annual General meeting 2017 to get their results and prizes. It is encouraging for us that the girls do well in competition with the high standard English medium schools in Lahore.
We had planned to have our own competitions in the summer term, but the Government ordered all schools to close on 22nd May for security reasons so even our examination schedule was disturbed and we had to send the girls home.
During the year we welcomed Miss Attiqa Mushtaq, former student , who had been studying in Darul Hikmat for B.A., Miss Catherine from Layyah under BA. , and Miss Christina, a law student who needed accommodation so that she could do the practical part of her training in Sialkot courts.Miss Sehrish B.A. joined us to help in the office. Miss Rebecca and Miss Affia are doing M.ED. Miss Farzana completed B.A. Miss Reeta continues BA Shamaila awaits result of BSc. Farzana Dhunda left to be married in May. Miss Aneeta left and Miss Shahnaz also left to follow her chosen career as a Bible teacher in Rawalpindi. Miss Kauser was seriously ill in November and we are thankful that she has been able to return to her place here after the Christmas holidays. Ms Asia who is a nurse and a widow came to us in the summer holidays, because she was not allowed to keep her children with her in her nurses hostel. She has two boys and a girl, all just in Primary classes. The boys study in CTI boys hostel now and come in holiday times here. Her daughter should be in our hostel but is not settling. We hope to get all three admitted in a co-ed hostel in April. Ms Samaira Nazir continues to live with us. She goes out at 7.30a.m. and returns at 9.30 p.m. working two shifts as a hospital receptionist. Staff nurse Fareeha left in November on her marriage. Perveen Fazal has now completed her nurse aid training and works two shifts in different hospitals. Najma joined us to study, but is also working in a private school teaching Mathematics. Nabeela Naseeb having completed her beautician training left to be married at the beginning of January. Nabila being deaf and dumb, left us having become able to lip read and speak quite clearly, for which we are thankful to God.She has become a very competent beautician. Asma Bansi lal had to go to Lahore quickly when she got news of the sudden death of her younger brother. We hope her husband has also arrived from Canada to take her back with him. The two sisters from Libya are still with us, one,Aksa, a staff nurse and the other,Nafees, studying Finance.
During 2016, from the hostel, Miss Khalida , matron in Kidley House, left to be married and the resident teachers looked after the hostel as well as their school work until we found Miss Shahnaz, who was a Bible teacher but became willing to work as matron. However, when she was informed of a vacancy for a Bible teacher she left to follow her training. We still are looking for a matron for Kidley House.
We thank God for His provision and the assurance that He will provide. We commit all the residents into His hands where they will be safe within His will .We thank all who support and pray for us We pray for former students witnessing in difficult situations and ask His protection and comfort for them.