Lives transformed through apprenticeships in Pakistan
“I prayed all the time and sought God’s help. My prayers got answered when one day I happened to meet the team of Barnabas Fund,” said Yasroon Hanif, apprentice barber.
Yasroon’s testimony typifies the experience of young Christians in Pakistan. Many have to leave school to go out and earn money to support the family, for example in a case of death, accident, sickness or redundancy affecting one of the parents and preventing them from continuing to work. When his father lost his job with the 2020 lockdown, Yasroon had to abandon schooling to seek a means to support his family. Because of the discrimination Christians face in Pakistan, finding work is always difficult. Yasroon faced the constant refrain that he lacked the necessary experience and skills. Once supported with a monthly stipend of 2,000 rupees (£9; $12; €10) from Barnabas Fund, however, he enrolled as an apprentice barber. He has now started receiving a regular wage and has learned much in the process.
A range of opportunities
Barnabas is currently supporting over 500 young Christians in apprenticeship schemes organised by our Pakistani Christian project partners on the ground in Rawalpindi/Islamabad, Lahore, Hyderabad, Faisalabad and Multan. The partners identify those youngsters who can most benefit from the training provided. The monthly stipend covers training, travel and lunch expenses and a proportion of the project supervisors’ costs.
Employers do not provide a wage, but they train the apprentices who work for free while they are learning. When the trainees are sufficiently experienced they can seek paid jobs for themselves or even set up their own small business. The apprenticeships offered that can open these doors include mechanics, beauticians, carpenters, electricians and many others.
Hurdles overcome through spiritual support and prayer
Sania, a dressmaking apprentice, describes the typical financial obstacles encountered before receiving support from Barnabas. “It is very difficult and expensive to learn any kind of skill,” she explains. “Technical institutions are very expensive.” Many Christians in Pakistan are, like Sania, too poor to pay for the vital vocational training, without which they are unable to acquire the skills to help them secure employment.
Shahmaz appreciated the practical guidance offered by the Barnabas Fund team. He recalls that he opted for a welding apprenticeship after being “counselled” and “encouraged”.
Regular field visits by Christian project supervisors check on the apprentices’ wellbeing and progress, and maintain good working relationships with trainers. Barnabas Fund has provided motorcycles to facilitate their work.
Monthly fellowship meetings between apprentices and project partners, including Bible study, prayer and counselling, have provided wonderful opportunities to share experiences and encourage one another.
Successful training inspires vision for the future
On 24 August 2021 a ceremony held in Lahore celebrated the progress made by 25 apprentices. Twelve received recognition as graduates who had completed their training, some of whom have started earning a regular salary. Among them Kosar, now drawing a monthly wage as a beautician, says, “Every night in our family prayer, all my family members pray for the whole team of Barnabas Fund and we wish more prosperity for them.”
Sufyan, an apprentice mechanic, and Anita, learning dress designing, expressed their aim to set up their own businesses so that they can provide training and employ Christian youth.
Sana sums up the impact of the ministry of Barnabas Fund and its partners. “They are helping to save lives of those youngsters who are in distress and they are providing them with new hope to face the challenges of life. I think through this help they are changing the future path of many of the families.”
Project reference: PR1531
Apprenticeships in Pakistan