“Where be I but for the grace of God”

Br. Norman, first came to Pakistan in 1967. Before that, his work had been educating boys and young men, mostly from poor backgrounds, in Guatemala, Sri Lanka and India. Growing up in America during the Great Depression, he learned to have empathy and reached out to help others. He continued this tradition at St. Patrick’s Technical School. Initially, as the auto shop teacher, and later as the Principal, he always encouraged students to complete their schooling and make something of themselves. He ensured that impoverished families could still send their children to school, and often let homeless people sleep in the school compound. He led a number of youth groups, encouraging young people to work in the slums and jails, to live their faith and be an example for others.

In 1982 Dr. Pfau of the Marie Adelaide Leprosy Center (MALC) asked Br. Norman to work on a farm in Sinjhoro, rehabilitating leprosy patients. When that program did not work out, Br. Norman already had another idea. He had met some men around the school who were addicted to drugs, men who were uncared for by society, and the farm would be an ideal place for them to be rehabilitated. In 1983, Br. Norman lived with a small group of men on the farm, in mud huts, without electricity or running water. Signs painted on the walls read “Where be I but for the grace of God” and “No man is a believer unless he wants for others what he wants for himself”, constant reminders that every life is valuable and that all were responsible to care for each other.

The House of Hope has now grown in size and numbers. The men at the farm and halfway house come from all social, religious and economic backgrounds, yet all of them eat, pray, work and celebrate together. They continue to have the twice daily meetings that Br. Norman started based on the Narcotics Anonymous twelve steps program. Each day they pledge to give up their problems and their lives to a higher power, to change themselves and give up their addictions, and support each other along the way.