Hospitality and Generosity in Pakistan

12th October 2012 - by Test Author

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My name is Alex Stockbridge and I am currently a third year student at university in Birmingham England, where I am studying Business management with communications.

 

In my second year of university I started volunteering at St Catherines Church, run by Columban Fr Jim Fleming. I am a member of the SVP group there. The volunteering gave me a different view on life and gave me the idea to find more about life around the world.

I decided to visit the Columbans in Pakistan to see how their life differed from my own, and to see how their ‘resilience and resistance’ – a term used by Columban Fr Tomas King, who was my host in Pakistan – towards everyday life could provide us with inspiration.

As Tomas and I were visiting the local Parkiri Kholi village on the outskirts of Badin, an event occurred that reinforced in my mind the hospitality and generosity I received when in Pakistan. We visited a homestead on the outskirts of the village; this homestead was around 10m long by 3m wide with a house situated in the corner of the plot. This woman’s home consisted of two rooms, a kitchen that had a wood fire in the middle, and a bedroom/lounge which the family would use in the monsoon season. The house had a straw roof and the walls were made of ‘mud’, with the homestead being surrounded by a brick wall provided to them by the church after the floods in 2011.

The woman greeted us with a friendly smile as she let us to her home. We sat down outside on the traditional Pakistani bed; which is a wooden frame with string inter woven in the middle to provide the mattress. As is custom with any guests we were not allowed to sit directly onto the mattress, so the family bedding was brought out for us to sit on and feel at home.

As we listened to the woman talk about how she was getting on and about any issues she had, her son, who was no older than 5, came through the door with two bottles of mountain dew. Unknowing to us the lady had sent her youngest son out to get two bottles of pop so that we could have a sweet drink on our visit.

This families combined income was around 350 Pakistani Rupees a day, equivalent to about £2.30, and these drinks would have set them back around 80 Rupees. It did not matter to them that they had water to offer us, to this family we were guests and therefore seen as a great honour to be in their home. Words cannot express how humbled I was by this gesture, witnessing people giving so much when other alternatives are available.

This short story is one of many experiences I had the honour of being part of when I went to Pakistan. I had the privilege of receiving unconditional hospitality and generosity which I feel is never fully recognised when people mention Pakistan. I finally thank the Columbans and the people I met in Pakistan for making the trip so memorable.