CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 10 November 2018

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Dispersing fear after Lahore bomb attack

Lahore (UCAN): Dispersing fear in the wake of the bomb attack that shattered the peace of Easter Sunday on March 27 in the  Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park in Lahore, Pakistan, is a major part of the support work being done by Caritas for the victims (Sunday Examiner, April 10).

A Caritas programme is providing trauma counselling to those affected by the bombing.

Perwaiz Masih, a tuk-tuk driver, survived the blast which killed his 18-year-old son. Another son was wounded in the knee. The tragedy changed his life.

“Now I fear parking my vehicle in crowded places. The scene of dead bodies still haunts me at night,” Masih said.

Naeem Naz, from the counselling team, said, “We received a call from a first year student who started going back out to public places after attending our counselling. She thanked us for her newly-found courage. This is our success.” 

In addition to this outreach, financial assistance is also being offered to some of the victims.

“It was a very painful incident, families celebrating a joyful occasion were targeted,” Archbishop Sebastian Shaw, from Lahore, told  19 families affected by the attack—four of whom are Muslim—at Sacred Heart Cathedral on May 18. 

“In our society it is very important to become a source of encouragement for each other,” he said.

Cheques worth 40,000 rupees ($2,960) each were distributed as part of the Lahore bomb attack victims support programme, which was launched by Caritas Pakistan Lahore during April.

“Our help won’t heal wounds, but at least you can buy some medicine with it,” Archbishop Shaw told the people.

The death toll from the attack climbed to 78 on May 15 after another victim died in Jinnah Hospital. The bomb blast injured more than 350 people.

Among the victims benefitting from the financial support provided by Caritas was 21-year-old Bilal Boota, who still has shrapnel wedged near his spine.

Doctors were unable to remove all the shrapnel because of fears that doing so would cause paralysis.

“They advised medication,” Boota said. “I can’t stand for hours at my job now. My back is stiff when I wake up,” he said.

Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a splinter group of the Taliban, claimed responsibility for the attack, saying Christians were the main target. Despite this, the dead and injured include a cross section of Pakistani society and the majority of the victims were Muslim.

Caritas plans to distribute more financial support to victims of the bomb attack in the future.

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