This website is about the GOAN Christian Community of Pakistan. Every Goan has ancestral roots in Goa, India, formerly a Portuguese colony. All Goans of Pakistan are predominantly Catholic. Although the 'Christian Community of Pakistan' has contributed immensely to nation-building; this endeavor is solely dedicated to researching, highlighting and archiving the GOAN community's historical background, cultural heritage, significant achievements and contribution to Pakistan, before and after independence.

 
Fr. Bonnie Mendes
By Ashfaq Fateh, Principal, St. Peter's High School, Toba Tek Singh, Pakistan
0346-4871967


Fr Bonnie Mendes came to the Punjab in 1967, after 5 years priestly experience in Karachi. He came on loan from Karachi Archdiocese and he has looked back since. He was Diocesan Director of Caritas Pakistan Faisalabad for ten years and Executive Secretary of the National Commission for Justice and Peace, also for ten years. Leave alone locally, he also served as the Executive Secretary of Office for Human Development of the Federation of Asian Bishops Conferences, Manila, and is now the Regional Coordinator of Caritas Asia in Bangkok.

Some remember his Farm to Market Road from Chak 424 JB to the main road, built with the full cooperation of the people. It is documented as such by the UN. However, his more important impact has been for participation of people in development and the Church and also for gender growth. It is incredible how he could manage to have mature mixed (boys and girls) youth groups right from the 1970s.

Fr Bonnie established the Society for Human Development Centre popularly known as Human Development Centre which continues to serve people in the Punjab.

In December 1990 Fr. Bonnie was transferred to Toba Tek Singh from Jhang. He opened a new branch of the Centre in Toba Tek Singh and trained hundreds of young people to work in social sector. He sent these young people to all over Pakistan to have interaction with other social change organizations and donors. He built the capacities of young people and finally, a full and well equipped team took over his work.

National Movements for Rights

In October 1992, then Federal Government decided to add religious column in national indemnity card, Fr. Bonnie Mendes was the first to react against this discriminatory decision by the Nawaz Government. He called a meeting of the community. They decided to stage a sit at the office of the Deputy Commissioner followed by hunger strike and later no work strike in the city of Toba Tek Singh. The protest turned into a movement all over the country and not only Christians but liberal Muslims and civil society organizations supported the movement. The basic stand was National Identity Card speaks about one's identity on the basis of citizenship and not religion. Finally Nawaz Government was forced to withdraw its decision. Similarly the protest against the Separate Electorate System took years. As a member of COSAP, he worked tirelessly with others to struggle till the Joint Electorate was restored in January 2002.

He has spoken out openly against discriminatory laws including the Blasphemy law.

International Peace Award 2005

Association for Communal Harmony in Asia is a US based well known organization promoting International peace in the world. After every two years the organization gives International Peace Award to people from Africa, Europe and Asia. This organization has its own network of institutions, organizations and relationship with the governments that helps the organization to grant international peace award to a person changing people's day to day life. They honoured in their words this "unsung hero Fr Bonnie" in Portland, Oregon, USA in October 2005, with the ACHA STAR Peace Award.

THE WORK CONTINUES

Fr. Bonnie Mendes is in Thailand but his work is remembered and continued. his youth and development workers are following his lines. When recent violence against Christians occurred in Korian and Gojra, district Toba Tek Singh. The government wanted to bury the dead Christians without registering the case against the people involved.

The activists trained by Fr Bonnie decided to protest with the dead bodies. They sat with the bodies on the railway lines. The rail traffic was blocked for many hours and government tried not to register the First Investigation Report. Finally government agreed and victims nominated attackers were included in the case. The protest helped Christians all over Pakistan and other liberal Muslims to put pressure on the Pakistani government to take immediate and necessary actions to support the victims. In December 2009 during his visit to Pakistan, Fr. Bonnie visited both affected areas and victims.

The spirit instilled is present sometimes it is making sure "Sasta Bazaar" reaches the common man and woman, sometimes, scholarships from the government for bright deserving poor students.

Fr. Mendes is currently working as Regional Cooridnator Caritas Asia in Bankok, Thailand. His email address is, mendesbon@hotmail.com
 

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