A woman with great faith keeps going
The story of a Pakistani Catholic maid and her unwavering faith
Razia Ranjha is a maid, mother of seven children, a devoted Catholic, and a pillar of the local Catholic community. She works at two Muslim houses as a maid, but even after the long and tiring day’s work, she visits Christian homes and provides postnatal massage services.
However, her day is still not finished. After a quick shower, she heads to St. Anthony at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Basti Saiden Shah, a Lahore slum dominated by Christians. She takes the bus for the eight-kilometre ride, and then, since the slum has no public transport, she walks another three kilometres. Because of her health condition, this walk is even more difficult, but it does not stop her.
She joined the rosary group in 2018, and ever since, she has never missed a prayer session. The rosary group of fourteen members regularly receives invitations to visit homes to pray together. She joined the Secular Franciscan Order in 2021 and plans to take her first vows in March next year at Dar Ul Naeem, the Franciscan formation house in Lahore. In the Lahore archdiocese, there are about 1,200 Catholic families, most of them living in poverty, just like Ranjha and her family.
She lives in a small, one-room rented apartment with her five family members. Her eldest, 33-year-old daughter also lives with her because her husband married another woman and gained custody over their two children. Despite the struggles, she is strong in her faith. She said,
“I trust God’s plan for us and will keep praying for my family. We should get closer to God when we are hurt. We all need His guidance in our lives.”
Her marriage is not a fairy tale either. Against her wishes and the Church’s advice, she was married at the age of 13. At that time, she worked with her mother and cleaned the houses of better-off people, so she wanted to postpone the marriage. But her father, a poor sanitation worker, gave in to the pressure and let the marriage happen. She never attended school, but through hard work, she was able to send her children to school. However, none of them could study longer than fifth grade and now work as sanitary workers or hairdressers.
Sanitation workers make up two per cent of Pakistan’s population, and about 80 per cent of them are Christians. So, many Muslims consider poor Christians to be dirty because of their occupation. It means discrimination on a daily basis to Ranjha and her family.
Her husband is an alcoholic and does not provide enough income for his family, so they are struggling financially. However, Razia says that God sees all and provides everything humans need.
Her unwavering faith should serve as an example for all Christians. We should learn from her that we have to trust God and place our faith in Him in hard times.
Photo: Kamran Chaudhry / UCA News