PAKISTAN: Former Salesian Student Killed and Two Students Wounded in Recent Church Bombing
(MissionNewswire) On March 15, a suicide bomber killed 17 and wounded 78, including two Salesian students, in attacks against Christian churches in Lahore, Pakistan. The attacks occurred in quick succession outside Catholic and Protestant churches in Youhanabad, one of Pakistan’s biggest Christian neighborhoods.
The Salesian Don Bosco Technical Institute for Boys in Lahore has been closed for security reasons since the incident. The two Salesian students were wounded as they passed in front of St. John’s Catholic Church, one of the two churches targeted in the attacks. Upon hearing the news, Salesian teachers went to the site and were able to accompany the injured students to the hospital where they are recovering. Akash Bashir, a security guard who was killed in the attack, was a former student of the Don Bosco Technical Institute for Boys. His heroic actions saved many lives by preventing the suicide bomber from entering St. John’s Church.
“Salesian missionaries provide education and social programs in more than 130 countries around the globe and often do so in challenging circumstances,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “While this recent bombing serves as a reminder to our Salesian family in the region to be vigilant about security, the importance of education and reaching poor and marginalized youth in these communities remains in the forefront.”
The Don Bosco Technical Institute for Boys provides trade education to mainly Christian students with some Muslim students attending as well. The institute started in 2000 with just 10 students and has grown to serve over a hundred boys aged 15 to 22 years. More than 80 percent of the students live in hostels on the school’s campus and are provided room and board and educational materials. Many students had previously dropped out of traditional schools before accessing services at the institute.
During 15 years of operation the institute has expanded educational courses to provide two-year automotive, electrical, metalwork and air conditioning and refrigeration programs. The institute graduates fully trained men to respond to Pakistan’s annual need for 1 million skilled workers in local industries and is registered with the Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority (TEVTA). TEVTA is Pakistan’s biggest network of polytechnic and vocational-training institutions.
“Education and skills training is very important for youth to have an opportunity to break the cycle of poverty and go on to lead productive lives,” adds Fr. Hyde. “Students who are able to gain employable skills and find livable wage employment become self-sufficient and are more willing to contribute back to their families and communities.”
According to the World Bank, more than 60 percent of Pakistan’s population lives below the poverty line. The United Nations Development Program’s 2013 Human Development Index ranked Pakistan 146 out of 187 participating nations. The index is a comparative measure of literacy, life expectancy, standards of living and education for countries around the world. Poverty in Pakistan differs from one province to another with the greatest levels of poverty in rural areas, especially isolated and scattered communities found in mountainous regions throughout the country. More than 30 percent of Pakistani children under the age of five are underweight and suffer from malnutrition and the literacy rate for youth age 15 to 24 is 71 percent.
ANS – Pakistan – Salesian students injured in attacks in Lahore
New York Times – Suicide Attacks on Pakistan Churches Kills 15
Salesian Province of Chennai – Akash Bashir, Don Bosco Past Pupil, Hero who stopped suicide bombers
World Bank – Pakistan