With a population of around 14 million, Jammu and Kashmir, has more mouths to feed than hands to earn.
Many charitable organisations in Kashmir vouch that there are Kashmiris who apparently look well off, but are among the neediest section of the society, especially after COVID-19 pandemic hit the world.
They appeal for donations during the holy month of Ramzan, when Muslims all over the world fast during daylight hours, abstain from wrongdoings and contribute to charity work and donations for the less fortunate.
Verification becomes the most important part of the process.
Following is a compilation of some organisations that have been working to help the poor and needy.
Some of these organisations keep you updated on their website, about the targets, and shortfall.
Athrout: This organisation was started by an Old Srinagar resident Bashir Ahmad Nadwi, a Muslim preacher, in 2007, after an unprivileged woman in a catholic church in Srinagar converted.
She had been to mosques in Kashmir and was made to wait outside. On the contrary, when she had approached the church, she had gotten the help she needed, at the cost of her faith. After hearing her story, Nadwi was shocked and decided to form a welfare body.
For fundraising, the organisation has kept donation boxes at various business establishments, like departmental stores, where people contribute money. It holds a weekly meeting where cases are shortlisted and a team of two persons is constituted to check the authenticity of the person seeking help.
It offers free medical help, education help, monthly household help, sponsorship of Nikkah, help during natural disasters and empowerment of skilful-yet-downtrodden people.
Since the pandemic hit, the organisation has been helping the weaker and marginalised sections of the society with the help of its 200 volunteers. They have been providing free masks and provided Personal Protective Equipment to various doctors and paramedics.
ALSO READ: The advent of ‘Athrout’ as a helping hand
“Our first line of defence is doctors and paramedics, if we strengthen them, they can make a difference. They can treat our loved ones. Currently we don’t know who is the next one among us who would need this help,” reads the Athrout website.
At present, it aims to raise Rs 5 Crore. So far, it has reached close to 30% of its target.
SRO Batmaloo: The Social reform Organisation was started by around 22 Kashmiri students in 2004. While the core group today has reduced to around 12, as soon as they ask for volunteers, hundreds join them.
“Initially, we would collect donations from locals and selling off the animal hides on Bakr Eid,” says one of the core members, Javaid Ahmad Dar.
He says that the youth started by installing dustbins in their localities and holding sanitation drives.
During the uprisings in Kashmir, the reform kept helping people: after the 2005 earthquake, in 2008, 2010 uprising, 2014 floods, 2016 turmoil, and continues to help during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Recently, an online group of volunteers ‘Coronavirus Watch J&K’ was formed on Facebook aiming to raise awareness about the virus. Within a week, the page got around 17,000 likes with people willing to help volunteers working on the ground. SRO Batmaloo collaborated with the page and got access to a larger audience.
With the donations received during the lockdown, so far, the organisation has managed to help many families by providing them with monthly food kits.
Other than bank transfers, team SRO also accepts Sadqah/Zakat in kind like rice, edible oil, spices, tea, etc.
They do door to door fundraising as well. People also arrange for the food packs and send them to SRO for distribution.
Chinar Child Nurture and Relief: CHINAR International is a non-profit, non-religious, non-political, social impact organisation with the mission “empowerment of orphans, vulnerable children and marginalised youth” through quality education and socioeconomic initiatives.
The organisation is currently running programs in Jammu & Kashmir.
While it focuses more on child development and quality education, at present, it is also helping people battle effects of the lockdown due to coronavirus.
It recently launched a COVID-19 relief programme in Kashmir with three main focus points: Awareness (spreading information through social media, posters and flyers), Prevention (distribution of masks, hand sanitisers, personal protective equipment and other forms of equipment) and Relief (provide Emergency Relief in the form of food kits and protective gear to low-income families.).
They maintain a website about their operations.
Help Poor Voluntary Trust: HPVT, like the above-mentioned trusts, is a non-governmental organisation working to serve “deserving patients of the society.”
It was established in 1998 based on Islamic principles laid down in ‘Eiyadat’ and ‘Timardari’. Therefore, it works to help ailing persons by providing them with free/subsidised medicine, trolleys, wheelchairs facility through collaboration with hospitals, ambulance services.
Contact: [email protected], 871703-3309
Ababeel: It is a well-known humanitarian organisation active for over five years in the Chenab valley of Jammu. With over 200 volunteers today, Ababeel was set up in 2015 and helps in times of emergencies like road accidents or natural disasters.
The charitable institution has received appreciation not only from the masses but also from the administration.
During this COVOD-19 crisis, an FIR was lodged against the trust with around 8 of its team members jailed for distributing ration to people in remote areas amid the lockdown. However, after Kishtwar’s Deputy Commissioner Rajinder Singh Tara’s intervention, the arrested volunteers were released on bail.
“They may have violated the lockdown in the absence of proper permission, but they are doing a good job,” he had said. The team was on its way to distribute food packets containing rice and atta (15 kg each), ghee, nutria, salt tea, sugar and salt (two kg each), besides two litres of refined oil; among 60 identified families with no religion bar.
The team is aiming to procure 500 suits, 1000 masks and gloves, for distribution among healthcare professionals and other frontline workers in Doda, Bhaderwah, Thathri, Kishtwar and Jammu.
Akmalia Welfare Trust: This trust was established in 1999. At present, it provides monthly aid to around 200 widows, aged and sick people. It also provides monthly fees of around 180 students, and facilitates students pursuing further studies.
“We provide for around 60 orphans/poor boys and girls studying in different colleges,” says Khurshid Ahmad Qanumgo, President of the Trust.
Moreover, it helps people undergoing medical treatments including chemotherapy and dialysis, and bears the cost of marriage of those who cannot afford it.
At present, Qunoongo says, he is shocked to see how many people are in dire need of help. “Many people working to make the ends meet do not have a job now. Even people who have a home to stay in have no food to eat. The pandemic has hit many people and some of them hesitate to ask for help. So, we check who needs assistance, and verify the details before providing help,” says Qunoongo.
Food for poor, food for all: The Whatsapp group was created with an aim to provide food and other basic needs for poor and needy during the present COVID-19 crisis. It is an initiative made by Kashmir Women’s Collective, its allies and supporters.
In the group, around 250 participants keep posting details of the needy living near them, after verification. Others directly send the donation to the person’s account.
The collective already has a huge list of needy people, especially women who need assistance amidst the present crisis. The members convey to each other that they have helped the needy person and accordingly the next in line is helped.
To become a member of the group, you can send them a message on Whatsapp number 9419445357.
They maintain a sheet for cases that have been helped.
Besides these organisations, countless other voluntary groups and collectives have risen to meet the challenges of the current crises in Kashmir. Many members of the society have been silently working in the shadows without any praise and reward.
This is not an exhaustive list.
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