“Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. For you will spread out to the right and to the left; your descendants will dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities.” Isaiah 54:2-3

Gilgit-Baltistan, northern Pakistan is a very mountainous and inaccessible part of the country. A historically conservative and underdeveloped region, it is riven by sectarian division, particularly between Sunni and Shiite Muslims.

Sectarian violence is a major problem which affects all aspects of life. Many innocent men, women and children have been killed, many women are widows and children are orphans. This violence is creating division, bitterness and hate between groups including Christian, Shia Muslim, Sunni Muslim and Ismaili women.

The Christian community is the most disadvantaged in Gilgit as they are a tiny minority. Christians traditionally earn a living by doing menial jobs and live in the most primitive conditions imaginable. The children, even very young ones, are often mistreated, beaten and verbally abused. Also, because education is not free, poor families are at a significant disadvantage in accessing education.

Our work

Now I work, earn good money and support my poor family

Rope and our partners, Shining Light Community Development Organisation, set up the Women’s Vocational Training Centre (WVTC) in 2007.  It aims to alleviate poverty, build harmony between the different sects and share God’s love so that the women come to understand their value in the sight of God and their equal standing with men. 

Managed and operated by local women for local women, WVTC communicates the message that women are valued by God and are of equal standing with men. Its vision is to develop and empower women in this male-dominated society, through skills in sewing, embroidery and knitting, leading to a skilled workforce within the community. They also offer literacy lessons in Urdu and provide health awareness training.

It costs £22 a month to support a women at the centre

WVTC seeks to promote harmony between women of all faith groups and it is the only vocational centre in Gilgit where both Sunnis and Shiites attend and work alongside Christians.  At WVTC women are encouraged to work, cooperate, participate, talk and socialise together.

Since 2007 over 300 women have directly benefited from the project and some 1,500 family members have also indirectly benefited through increased income generation. This is a provision in high demand and it has a year's waiting list.

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Asha

“I never thought I could support my family” says Asha, 18, from northern Pakistan.  In this inherently conservative area, women are not seen as equal or given similar opportunities to men. Through their vocational training centre our partners seek to be countercultural, giving women like Asha educational opportunities.  With training in sewing and design and employment at their Life Stitch Centre, Asha is earning income so she can support her family.