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Razia, a Pakistani Christian woman saved from poverty

In AsiaNews Shafique Khokhar tells the story of Razia Irshad who is 46 and is the mother of 7. They live in the countryside in the Tehsil Samundri district in Pakistan. Her husband was the only wage earner, but what he earned was insufficent and schooling for the children remained a mirage. Then two years ago Razia obtained a small loan from the Association for Women's Awareness and Rural Development (AWARD) which promotes the development of rural areas in the country and everything changed. “With the money”, she recounts, “I bought seeds and fertilizers” and her work continues to make headway, “despite losses last year due to heavy rains.” The latter “did not discourage us”. Indeed, refusing to give up, she “kept struggling.” And now “I have a happy life and people give me a lot of love and respect.” The beginnings were far from easy. Her family and the neighbours disapproved of her decision as too free for a conservative society like that in Pakistan. Her husband alone always backed her and in the long run the couple proved to be right. Today Razia has gained the respect of the community and is considered a “brave woman”. After taking part in various training courses organized by AWARD Pakistan, she was able to develop a retail business selling the vegetables she grows on two acres of land. She manages to save about 2,000 Pakistani rupees (17 euro) a day and is planning to purchase a larger plot of land. Her husband told AsiaNews of the pleasure they get from working their own land: “We now live a life of dignity,” he said. “I am proud of my wife who worked hard to build our home. Thanks to her work, we are consolidating our position in society and we can send our children to school. I hope that other women follow her example and help make Pakistani society more prosperous”. Christina Peter, Director of AWARD Pakistan, reported that 30 other local women have received loans. "Razia Irshad is one of our success stories”, she said proudly. "I am grateful to AWARD for the support they gave me,” Razia concluded, “but I am even more grateful to Jesus Christ for the strength and courage he gave me”.

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