JKYF: A hope for hopeless

Is there anything you can do for us, cry tragedy struck children

IRFAN RASHID

SRINAGAR:

For many children like ten-year-old Ahmad (name changed), Jammu and Kashmir Yateem Foundation (JKYF) is taking care of education, boarding, lodging and food for years now.
Yasir belonged to a normal and happy family. One day his father left his house, never to return. He met an accident while driving Sumo vehicle on Bandipora road. His brain developed tumor and ultimately could not survive. Ahmad is studies in 4th class and dreams to become a KAS officer.
Like Ahmad, there are hundreds of orphans staying in JKYF. Only in its Srinagar branch, there are nearly 50 orphans despite September flood razing its entire infrastructure to ground. These kids are presently living in tents. But an apparent fear among them is about coming winter when freezing cold will turn every living and dead thing into permafrost during nights. These orphans have a question for entire society. Is there anything you can do for us?
When seven years ago, this kid from north Kashmir lost his father, an open question was thrown to society as well. Mother of this kid gave poison to her husband only to end up making her children orphans. When asked the kid about the reason why the poison was given, he has a very innocent and emotional reply: “aes aees mojea mangan bathea sulee kahea bajea temis aes sharat khasaan.” (We will ask early lunch to our mother only at 11 am but she would get angry)
Thereafter, mother locked both her kids for three days while her husband was on duty in some faraway place. On returning, father beat black and blues his wife.
“I will mix poison in your food,” quoted the kid saying her mother. Now his sister is living with her aunty and the kid wants to become an Islamic scholar.
Different studies have put number of orphans in lakhs with latest one study claiming it to be over 02.14 Lakhs in J&K.
Orphans in the age group of 0-6 years & 06-14 years, due to lack of parental care (particularly of father) and livelihood have been living a miserable life without minimum levels of subsistence. Education, healthcare & shelter for such destitute have been the biggest challenges for the community concerned about welfare & rehabilitation of orphans, widow and destitute.
An uncle is said to be next to father if a person is orphan. But this word is meaningless for Daanish (name changed) whose father’s grave was yet to develop green grass than his uncle left no stone unturned to name deceased brothers property in own account. This orphan kid had no one to take up except JKYF.
Though setting up of orphanages for orphan children is not desirable in our society but a big compulsion. There is apathy on the part of such close relatives & blood relations of orphans.
Muhammad Rafiq Khan, Chairman JKYF, is very apprehensive about mushrooming of fake trusts and NGO’s in the name of noble cause, said: “The mushrooming of fake TRUSTS, NGOs, Other Voluntary Organizations, with the support of certain bad elements, brings disrepute to the noble missionary    work.   Similarly, lack of genuine social audit of NGOs, voluntary organizations, without accountability related to the receipts & expenditures, is another issue which warrants serious attention on the part of sincere cross section of people.”
Rashid Nizami, a noted broadcaster said that the well-off people should come forward to pay their genuine Islamic taxes towards authentic organizations.
“Recently there was a survey done in Kashmir revealing only 5 per cent rich people pay Zakat. The irregular & low rate of payment of Zakat, Sadaqat, Khairat, other donations & charity, by the general rich and well off Muslim population, is also taking toll of the welfare and rehabilitation activities for the deserving.”
Shahnaz Bashir, faculty at Central University of Kashmir, said on how society has to come forward to give a familiar feeling to these orphans.
“Lack of physical interaction, association and proximity of people with these orphans and other destitute people poses a serious danger of coming up of secluded generation of Orphan Section of Society with secluded attitude, outlook & mindset,” he said.
Tariq Ahmad, a JKYF volunteer said: “Our Mission is to reach out to the disadvantaged and underprivileged section of our community which comprises of Orphans, Widows and destitute. We don’t consider these our ‘Target Group’ but integral part of our existence whose misery & sufferings haunt minds & souls of every humane hearted human being,” he said.  “Our endeavor is to take this mission ahead by facilitating them better life with dignity wherein orphans, widows & other destitute live an honorable & happy life while having minimum levels of subsistence besides access to shelter, education & healthcare facilities.”
Senior journalist, Khursheed Wani, said: “The organizations like JKYF are the reflections of our society and people should come forward for help.” JKYF’ journey started on 15th of March 2000.
JK Yateem foundation on Saturday evening organized an awareness cum interaction program ‘Ramdhan Call: Together with orphans, widows and destitute’. The message of the program was “Lets join hands for welfare and rehabilitation of orphans, widows and destitute”. There half an hour documentary was also shown depicting rough life of these all.
At minimum, Rs 3000 monthly is expenditure on a kid here; and for hundreds of such kids, lakhs of rupees are needed.
Presently, the estimate cost of new building on JKYF at Jawahar Nagar is nearly Rs 10 crore and the sole source of income for it is the charity of people. Government has not even come forward atleast once to look at the devastated conditions here.
Till date, 73 orphans have passed out from here. They are normally allowed to return after matriculation examination and then supported only monetarily. From last 15 years, around 3 crores have been spent on these orphans.
Since orphan girls are not allowed here but JKYF has extended its hand to them as well. From last 15 years nearly half a crore has been spent on girls.
Giving details about widow welfare programme, JKYF said: “Rs 3 crore has been spent on 885 widows in last 15 years.”
Under their poor welfare program, Rs 16 lakhs have been spent on 215 persons in last 5 years.
For helping people in getting higher education, JKYF has spent Rs one crore on 500 scholarships in last 13 years. And Rs 12 lakhs on professional education of 18 students.
For marriage of orphan and poor girls, financial assistance of Rs 52 has been provided for solemnizing marriages of over 500 girls since 2003.
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