Andrea Riccardi visited these days the Community of Sant'Egidio of Pakistan which, for the occasion, gathered from 12 cities in Lahore, capital of Punjab.
There was great joy and expectations for this visit, sign of the love and closeness of the Community of Sant'Egidio to the Christians in Pakistan, a minority (2% of the population) in this Muslim country, who often live in a very difficult situation. "No community will never be forgotten - said Andrea Riccardi, who added: "There is a mission of Sant'Egidio in this country, to gather around the many crosses of poor people's life, whatever their religion is, and to build places of friendship and peace for evrybody".
One place of these is the School of Peace Yohannabad, a predominantly Christian neighborhood on the far outskirts of Lahore. The house of the Community is an oasis where many children have found the warmth of a family and care for their education. In Pakistan, the illiteracy rate is very high and access to education is a key issue for helping Christians to escape a situation of minority.
Here, last March, a serious attack hit two churches, Catholic and Protestant. A child of the School of Peace, Abish, was killed. The meeting of Andrea Riccardi with his family (pictured below) was a sign of affection and consolation for their huge pain.
In ordedr to support young Christians' education, the Community has created a program, "Right to school, right to the future", which offers scholarships for higher education to Christians boys and girls who come from poor families.
The delegation of the Community of Sant'Egidio, together with Andrea Riccardi, visited one of the schools where the program takes place, St. Anthony High School. The enthusiasm of teachers and students emerged in a joyful (and solemn at the same time) ceremony, which was organized for this occasion: it was a clear evidence of the importance of continuing this support for education of the youth in Pakistanis.