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A word of testimony and recommendation from a visiting American
I have known the Akhtars since Oct 3, 2013 through Skype chat and audio/video calls. On April 20, 2014, I traveled to Pakistan with my two youngest children to visit the Akhtars for a month. We returned to the U.S. on May 20, 2014. Then we returned on March 4, 2019 and stayed there again until April 3, 2019. Then we returned on November 6, 2019 and stayed there again until December 5, 2019. Feel free to contact Javied or Jamshaid Akhtar to get my contact information, including e-mail, home telephone number, Skype name, and even my personal family website URL. This is important, since there are many questionable ministries in countries like Pakistan seeking western funding, varying from totally genuine to totally fraudulent, and everything in between.
I want to share some details about both their financial situation and that of the CSF ministry.
First, about the Akhtar family themselves. In 2014 Akhtars are a family of seven people living in a two bedroom house. I would assess their economic status there as lower-middle class by Pakistani standards. By American standards they would be considered at a poverty level, living in what we would consider slum conditions. Three people slept in one bed, three in another, and one on the couch. They live very frugally, and any extra funds that they have go to serving the lower-class rural people through their CSF ministry. Using funds from life insurance from the death of Javied's wife and their own manual labor, they renovated the house. In 2019 there were twelve people living in the now three bedroom house, including two young children.
By western standards, the rural, lower-class people, who were formerly brick kiln factory workers, live at sub-poverty level. That said, despite all the poverty, I saw no starvation, no more begging in the city streets than in any typical large American city, and the people there made do with what they had; I never heard them complain about their lot in life.
Here is a 2014 YouTube video walk-through I took of the Akhtar house and neighborhood:
Here is a 2019 update to that video showing the renovations to the house and comparing it to before, including Google Maps and drone footage:
Here is a YouTube video walk-through I took of the original CSF primary school and ministry center facility in 2014 (it hadn't changed in 2019):
While we were there in 2014 we made a trip to a McDonald's, at the repeated begging and nagging of my children. The prices were comparable to those in the U.S. Eight of us got simple hamburgers, cheeseburgers, and french fries, with the bill totaling the equivalent of USD $20. While there, I asked, and found out that they had never been to the McDonald's before, because it was too expensive and Javied said they could not afford to spend that kind of money on such a luxury as eating at a McDonald's.
The oldest Akhtar son worked a steady job at a factory in 2014. He worked about 200 hours a month and earned 15,000 PKR, which equated (in 2014 dollars and 2014 exchange rate) to about $150/month, or 75 cents an hour. He must give $100/month of that to the family income, leaving him with $50/month for himself, his wife, and baby. Once while I was there he took his wife, who was pregnant with their second child, to the medical clinic for a check-up. This cost him $30, which left him with $20 of spending money for the month.
In 2019 Javied's daughter's husband, Sharoon, was working for Dish Network's call center as a script reader, since he speaks English. The calls from American customers go to people like him in foreign countries first to see if they can solve the customer's problem, just following a script. He made a salary of 15,000 PKR per month for about 76 hours of duty on the job, which works out to (in 2019 dollars and 2019 exchange rate) an equivalent of about $107/month and $1.40/hour in wages. They consider that a lucrative job that he is actually very thankful for.
Although in full-time ministry and leadership at CSF, Javied himself works when he can as a professional tailor, making/contracting garments for extra money.
One day while I was there in 2014, Javied was upset because there were several children at the CSF school who were barefoot and did not have shoes. He went out to the market and bought leather shoes for them out of his own pocket.
In Christmas 2018, Jamshaid's American wife sent Javied a Christmas gift of money, designated for his personal use, to spend on himself. Javied did not spend any of it on himself. He put it all into CSF.
Jamshaid married a young American career woman, who has some sort of managerial nursing job in the health care industry, and they eventually settled in Florida, where he is now. He now works behind the deli counter at a grocery store. All extra funds from their income, after living expenses, go to CSF. The timing of our second trip was actually motivated by Jamshaid being homesick. He was going to go with us and be our translator, as he was in 2014, but Javied figured out that his sister, Sehresh, and her husband, Sharoon, could do that. They had returned from Thailand, where they were in a self-imposed, six-year exile, due to death vows by Muslims after her husband's sister got into a religious argument with a Muslim in a bank. So, Javied told Jamshaid to send him whatever money he was planning on using to buy airline tickets, and stay in Florida.
There are many stories like the examples above of the frugality and efficiency with which they handle money to maximize what is made available to the mission.
When I have contributed to their ministry, they have provided me either ahead of time with a budget or after the fact with an accounting of exactly how the money was spent. While I was there, I had many opportunities to watch them spend money. In their home, they buy whole vegetables, rice, flour, and other basic ingredients, and the young lady of the house makes family meals out of that from scratch. They are not accustomed to buying fruits, or any kind of prepared foods for themselves. They get around on family motorcycles, and do not own a car. They looked at new refrigerators and then bought a used one for the CSF school. They bought used furniture for the school office. They would purchase inexpensive snacks for the school children. They built a baptistry on the premises while I was there, using their own labor and about USD $200 in raw materials (bricks and concrete mix).
Funds sent to them go a long way. The CSF facility rent and utilities are about USD $125/month. A teacher's salary is about $100/month. Snacks/food for the children $50/month. They have expanded the educational services of CSF, with the most recent vision to purchase inexpensive sewing machines at $90-$100 each, for a vocational training program.
All this is to point out that this is certainly a worthy and efficient ministry to contribute funds to. However, there is no American/western ministry front. There is no Paypal in Pakistan. In 2014 I showed Jamshaid a credit card, and he did not know what it was or how it worked. I had to explain the whole western credit card system to him. The Pakistanis deal strictly in cash.
Western Union and Moneygram now are giving them trouble receiving money, because of those companies' security protocols. Recently I tried Ria Money Transfer and they banned me from attempting to send money to Pakistan before I even had an opportunity to explain. Since Jamshaid now lives in the U.S., we send him money using PayPal, and then he sends it to Pakistan using Ria directly to Javied's bank account. PayPal is free within the U.S. to transfer to him for non-business purposes, and there is a nominal fee for people sending from outside the U.S. The only economical way we have of sending funds is through Jamshaid. See the PayPal "Donate" button below. He can also receive funds through Venmo or Zelle.
Javied investigated the possibility of opening up a bank account in the ministry's name, rather than his own, with a plan to then use a government-approved auditor/notary to attest to the accounting of funds spent. However, after visiting banks to try to do this, he was informed that it would be very difficult to get approval from any bank to open up such a bank account, since his organization is a Christian organization, and the government (and any major business institution) is Muslim. He was told that it would be no problem opening up a bank account in his own name. In any event, Javied is not only willing, but considers it his duty to provide an accounting of how all money is spent. I am sharing this information to show that they are making an effort in this regard, despite the widespread economic discrimination against Christians in Pakistan.
As of March of 2019, Javied was working on starting another primary school at another brick kiln factory, and was exploring options at a third one. He also had a vision for the current CSF location to be moved to a place they would own, not rent. The Muslim owner has told them that he would like to rent the current facility out to others, and has just not found any takers. Javied wants to build a facility (and by "build" I don't mean hire construction workers, American style -- they would build it themselves with bricks and other building materials) to also include an orphanage where the orphans in the school could live at the school.
As of November of 2019, we visited there again to find out that they now had four CSF locations, the original one at Youhanabad #2 (now sometimes referred to as "New Youhanabad"), one at Khaliq Nagar, which they have called "CSF #2," one at Sharif Park (meeting on a roof), which they have called "CSF #3," and one near Khand Village, which they have called "CSF #4." They are operating four primary schools, two adult literacy classes (one at CSF #1 and one at CSF #2), and one sewing vocational program (at CSF #2). They have a vision to buy land across from CSF #3 (see the second documentary video on the home page), add programs (such as adult literacy and sewing vocational programs at the locations that don't presently have them), and fund more sewing machines, ideally such that they can again give the sewing machines away to the student graduates at the end of each program to kickstart their individual businesses.
They have other needs for funds in the current CSF program as well.
I can attest to the fact that a real investment is being made into people's lives for the Kingdom of God. Again, you can get my contact information through them.
Christians are allowed to do their own thing in Pakistan without threat of physical harm, for the most part, but they are a heavily discriminated class, much like African Americans were in America from 1863 to 1963. They are denied jobs, privileges, and get paid the lowest wages. They are simply despised and looked down upon by the Muslim majority. This is why Javied and others don't have lucrative opportunities for earning or otherwise obtaining money in Pakistan. They depend on sponsorship by people like me and you.
I hope this helps to explain the financial situation. They are really doing an incredible job with the financial resources that they have, and I, for one, am glad to be one of their supporters.