8 February 2023

Self-Denial 2023: Getting young people the support they need to thrive

Joyce's story

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As part of the Self-Denial Appeal, Joyce shares her hopes for the future.

This year’s Self-Denial Appeal runs from 5 February to 5 March with a focus on children and young people and how The Salvation Army is supporting, enabling, caring for and being changed by children and young people around the world.

About 230 million people live in Pakistan, making it the country with the fifth largest population. And it’s a young population – nearly two thirds are under 30, including Joyce.

‘My name is Joyce and I’m 15 years old. I live with my mother, Fozia, and my two younger sisters. Araunan is 13 years old, and she is in Grade 7 and Canisa is almost 10 years old, and she is in Grade 4. I spend my time doing baking. I like to bake cookies and sometimes snacks.

‘My mother is a Salvation Army officer. She is the social secretary in charge of The Salvation Army’s schools and hostels in Pakistan. My aunt, Nazia, taught me how to bake and the first thing we baked was a mud cake.’

Joyce’s dad was also an officer, but he died suddenly nearly 10 years ago.

Pakistan is an Islamic republic: 96 per cent of the population are Muslim, just over 1 per cent are Christian. Today, there are nearly 40,000 Salvationists here. Joyce and her family go to the corps on the headquarters compound in the city centre. During the meeting the choir sings songs and there are Bible readings.

Pakistan’s constitution gives its citizens the right to practise their own religion, but strict blasphemy laws can make it difficult for religious minorities.

‘There are seven to eight kids my age and my friends are many girls from the compound area,’ says Joyce. ‘In school I get to know and have Muslim friends. It’s interesting, you get to know about both religions side by side.’

This is not the first time Joyce has featured in a Self-Denial film. A few years back The Salvation Army filmed Joyce and her sister Araunan going to school.

‘At that time, I was 10 years old, so life was easy. There was no hard study pressure. Now you have some responsibility, you need good marks, good grades.’

Photo shows Joyce sat in a comfortable-looking room with a Christmas tree and decorations. She is studying.

Around the world, access to education, the amount you get paid and your chances of getting a decent job can vary depending on a lot of factors, but especially whether you are a man or a woman. This gender gap has, in many countries, been slowly reducing but in Pakistan the gap is one of the widest. The Salvation Army’s mission is to serve without discrimination and it’s doing what it can to support all children and young people.

Mission support money from the UKI Territory is being used to build new classrooms. In this school in Karachi, it’s funded training for local officers who are working with children and a programme for young leaders. Throughout the territory, they’re doing their best to make sure all young people get the support they need to thrive. Still, in Pakistan being a woman and having a Christian faith can make things more difficult. Joyce isn’t put off.

‘I want to become a doctor. I’m really interested in how they help other people to save lives and I’m thankful for them that they saved many lives in the Covid-19 season. There’s discrimination in Pakistan between men and women. Many women are not allowed to go out for jobs due to family issues and family don’t allow it.

‘I have been living in Pakistan for almost 15 years, so I’m now used to it. Sometimes I feel fed up, frustrated, but you need to live. My hopes for the future are less discrimination, more focus on education and health, and more progress for the next generation.’

There are quite a few ways to give to Self-Denial. You can use the envelope, or this year's collection box. You can visit salvationist.org.uk/selfdenial – or, if you have a standing order set up already, you can make a payment that way. Speak with your corps treasurer.

Make your offering online

Give to Self-Denial

Discover more

Go without something to support the work of the international Salvation Army.

Information and resources for the Self-Denial Appeal 2024.

Six Bible studies based on Psalm 100:1-5 which help explore the theme of Generous Discipleship.

Benjamin Gilbert explains the differences and links between the Army’s two major international appeals.

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