Even though it has been seven years since the devastating All Saints Church bombing in Peshawar which resulted in over 100 deaths and 120 injured, the wounds and pain inflicted on the city’s Christian community on September 22, 2013 have yet to heal.
Some of those affected, however, have transformed that trauma and turned it into a source of strength to do good for the greater community.
Peshawar’s 28-year-old Naina Samson is one such individual, who lost her sister, Samreen, in the church attack seven years ago. She has now dedicated her life to working for the rights of minorities’ women and children, and to help alleviate their pain.
After the tragic death of her 15-year-old sister, Naina decided to become a psychologist and completed her higher education from the University of Peshawar. After attaining her degree, she began counselling victims of the All Saints Church blast and their families, along with other members of the minority community.
Naina said women from minority communities are forced to constantly live in fear, the biggest cause of which is the threat of forced conversions. She said such instances instill in impressionable young minds a sense of inferiority and insecurity, which she works to overcome in her counselling sessions.
She asserted that the conversion of underage minority girls is not just a problem of the minority community to which they belong but a serious matter concerning the entire country as it brings a bad name to Pakistan.
Furthermore, Naina’s work on the upbringing of children — her area of scholarly expertise — has not only gained recognition in the country but also in academic circles around the world. The research pertains to the role of parents, as well as teachers, in a child’s upbringing. Her research has also led to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government incorporating her work into a special plan for children’s education.
“Children’s mental health has never been a priority in our country,” deplored Naina, adding that the younger generation is our future and thus deserves to be at the center of our attention.