To Lahore, with love

Mumbai school sends message of love to Lahore children affected by the recent bomb attack

Updated - April 01, 2016 05:39 am IST

Published - April 01, 2016 12:00 am IST - MUMBAI:

Act of love:Ecole Mondiale school students make greetings cards to show support for the victims of the recent Lahore blasts.— Photo: Rajneesh Londhe

Act of love:Ecole Mondiale school students make greetings cards to show support for the victims of the recent Lahore blasts.— Photo: Rajneesh Londhe

In a heartening gesture of solidarity, 40 students from Class 7 of Mumbai's Ecole Mondiale World School, gathered on Thursday morning to make cards to be sent to Ghauri Wisdom High School in Youhanabad, one of the Christian neighbourhoods affected by the suicide bombing in Lahore on the day of Easter Sunday.

Armed with chart paper, crayons, and sketch pens, the students wrote messages of strength and support for the friends, family, and teachers of Sharoon Patras, a Class 7 student from Ghauri Wisdom High School who died in the attack at Lahore's Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park during the celebrations. His elder brother, Irfan Patras, a Class 8 student, was severely injured, and is currently recuperating at Jinnah Hospital.

One of the Class 7 girls at Ecole Mondiale World School in Juhu, Mumbai, decorated her card with a peace symbol, and sketches of colourful Easter eggs. Inside the card, she wrote a note urging the Pakistani students to not lose hope. She said, “The terrorist is the big high-school bully that you cannot complain about because he is too big and powerful. Oh, and everyone is scared of him. You have two options: either to be too terrified of him and stay in a corner whimpering, or fight against him.”

Another girl added, “I heard about the attacks on TV, and it made me sad. I wanted the children in Lahore to know that we care about them.” A boy from the same class said, “My mother’s friend lives close to Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park. He was at home when the blast happened. It was quite scary.”

Deviyani Pathak and Tulika Bathija, the teachers anchoring this solidarity initiative at Ecole Mondiale World School, have a personal history connected to Pakistan. Pathak’s grandparents migrated from Rawalpindi at the time of Partition in 1947, and she hopes to be able to visit Pakistan, and see the city where her grandparents once lived. Bathija’s paternal grandparents migrated from Shikarpur, and her maternal grandparents migrated from Sukkur. Both these places are in Sindh, Pakistan, and she nurtures the desire to visit the neighbouring country at least once, in order to reclaim her roots.

Grant Rogers, head of the secondary section at Ecole Mondiale World School, said, “I am proud of the teachers and students who initiated this project. In this day and age, it is important for us to concentrate on that which unites us as opposed to that which divides us.”

Jahanzaib Ghauri, principal of Ghauri Wisdom High School, said, “This is a time of tremendous grief for all of us. We lost one of our students, and another one is in a critical condition. The children who were close to them are very sad. They come and express their sorrow. It is extremely moving for our school to know that children from India too, a country that Pakistan has been in conflict with, are feeling our pain and loss. We are deeply grateful for all the love.”

The connection between these schools in Mumbai and Lahore was facilitated by Raza Khan, coordinator of the Lahore chapter of Aaghaz-e-Dosti, a cross-border peace initiative that engages young people from India and Pakistan in building ties of friendship through online and offline interactions. Khan said, “It was unfortunate that the Christian community was attacked on a day that is so significant for them. Many women and children got killed. The school in Mumbai wanted to reach out to those who were affected by this tragedy. We just played a small part by connecting them to each other.”

It is extremely moving to know children from India are feeling our pain

Jahanzaib GhauriPrincipal,

Ghauri Wisdom High School

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