By Nabeela Ali,
Bureau Chief Newcastle, Nawa-i-Jang London
‘It’s not the choice of a child to become an orphan, but, we do have a choice to make a difference in their lives’ said the local trusties Qurban Hussain and Mohammed Yaqoob on Saturday 1 March, at fundraising Dinner, in Gateshead at the Civic Centre. While sharing their views, about the Kashmir Orphan Relief Trust [KORT], with Bureau Chief of Nawa-i Jang.
Philanthropists bestowed £46,000 for Muslim Orphanage
Mohammad Younas Malik, organiser of this event said we raised £46,000 thanks to all family and friends who joined us at fund raising dinner. All the guests enjoyed their food thoroughly; all the people were also given a briefing about the needs, future plans of KORT and the possible use of donations.
Pride of Achievements for KORT’s Chairman, President of AJK
Mohammad Akhtar, who is the main organiser of Kashmir Orphan Relief Trust, said this organization was founded in 2005, following the devastating earthquake in Pakistan and Kashmir. It began as a group of friends who wanted to help out the shattered families in Kashmir as a result of this earthquake
Akhtar IS as the leading fundraiser at that time to support the victims of earthquake in Pakistan and Kashmir and we rose over £100,000 with the help of friends and families, who have been very generous.
We decided to fly to Pakistan, to help our brothers and sisters at this point of difficult time. We purchased 300 tents, blankets, food and medicines to distribute among the families of the affected area.
“Upon our arrival in Kashmir, we were totally shocked because we faced one of the most horrific sites imaginable” said Akhtar.
Demolition and the death rate were beyond our imagination and we learnt that many of the children had been orphaned. It was very distressful and gloomy moment for all of us. We probably had never seen such a painful situation in our whole lives. It’s was hard for us to see a live scenery of dead bodies scattered everywhere.
KORT has provided a family house to the orphans
Most of the children were orphaned and they were crying, screaming helplessly and hopelessly. But there was no one from their own family to show sympathy to them, to cuddle them and to calm them just with few loving words: “Don’t worry, we are here for you, we will look after you.” in place of their mum and dad, these unfortunate kids were alone when they were crying and sobbing, looking here and there with empty eyes, in search of love, hope and support to get them out of fear.
This was the time when we decided there was further need to help the orphan children affected by the earthquake.
Newborns placed outside the office, are given the Chairman’s surname.
Akhtar said ‘when we came back to the UK, we contacted the Government of AJK, Pakistan and different organizations to set up an orphanage. Our primary goal was to provide a safe, secure and family environment for those children, who had lost almost everything in their life, where they feel loved and cared’.
He said ‘It has been a huge struggle to get there, where we are now. We didn’t get any aid or funding from any organisation so we decided instead of chasing the donor agencies up, we better start raising funds by organising small awareness events for our community, and we got very good response from the family and friends, as a result of these awareness events, now whenever and wherever in UK, we organise a fundraising event, we always get a big support from community and we raise huge amounts.
Since last ten years we have proved that KORT is the right place for people to donate where they can see their money in action.
Akhtar said ‘When we were donated the 100 kanals of land, in 2007 by the Prime Minister Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan, we hardly had £10,000 in our account. But I had a dream to build a family home for orphans, not an orphanage. This piece of land is the largest donation ever made to an NGO in AJK.
KORT’s children have never worn used clothes, Ch M.Akhtar
He was very proud to tell that in last 9 years of KORT, looking after the kids, none of the children in KORT’s care have never ever worn used clothes donated by other people. And they did not charge a single penny. Recently, the present Prime Minister promised to give further 100 kanals after he visited KORT in October.
Currently KORT is providing 24/7 care for over 140 orphan children in Mirpur, Azad Kashmir. These children were orphaned by the devastating earthquake in October 2005. KORT provides mainstream education, food, clothing, shelter, their general welfare and well being. However, there are many more children who are in urgent need of long term care and security.
Our children are described as confident, smart, articulate and up for bright future, KORT’s management.
In the beginning of the KORT, most children were branded as vulnerable, desperate and fearful but after bringing up in KORT and after getting them education, sports, activities, good food, decent clothing and a family environment under the supervision of the staff working there 24/7, they have changed their lives. They said ‘We are very delighted to announce that most of our children are described as confident, smart, and articulate and up for bright future to achieve their full potential’.
KORT is constructing one of the largest educational and residential complex in South Asia situated over 24 Acres of land in the city of Mirpur, AJK, Pakistan. This orphanage will provide shelter for 1000 orphans and this project will also provide education to 500 underprivileged children.
This complex will consist of a main school building with 98 classrooms, IT lab, disabled facilities, meeting rooms, 2 separate hostels, each accommodating 500 boys and girls. Dining hall and a canteen block, A 20 bed basic health unit, a mosque with a capacity of 1600 people, in-door and out-door sports and recreational facilities.
Akhtar said ‘A number of people visited KORT and they were totally flabbergasted to see the progress of work what we have made in last few years and the living standards of the of our lovely children, who are living there like a family and just like my own child. I have given them my Surname Akhtar, they are no more orphans but now they are my children’.
The president of AJK, Pakistan, Sardar Yaqoob Khan also visited KORT, he met the children and staff, he also admired facilities provided to offer the better living standard in the KORT as compared to the other orphanages. He was very inspired and called KORT a complete paradigm of an orphan’s family house.
The president also announced this year’s “Pride of Achievement Award” for Ch. Mohammad Akhtar, the founder and chairman of KORT in reorganization of his long term unmatchable and tremendous services and giving Mirpur the largest orphanage in South Asia.
Khobaib A Vahedy the country director of Muslim aid in Pakistan visited KORT and he said ‘It was one of the best set up of Orphans Relief Projects I have ever seen in Pakistan’. He said most of the credit goes to Ch. Mohammad Akhtar for his tireless efforts, prayers and best wishes for the tremendous success ahead. Muslim Aid Pakistan would be happy to help them for capacity building of team and conducting trainings for the staff of KORT.
Habib Malik the CEO of Islamic Relief of Scotland and Australia also visited KORT about two weeks ago; he was stunned to see the facilities in the residential area and the syllabus which is being taught to the children. He also said KORT’s set up for orphan is incomparable.
Jabbar Karim Managing Director-Fever FM said “My visit to KORT Charity was quite moving and enjoyable, seeing the young children set up and the new complex being build was breath taking”. KORT has bestoke a huge responsibility upon themselves for which only a few are capable off. The care of the children and the vision of the new complex truly deserve the support of every Muslim brother and sister. We at Fever FM full heartily support KORT and call everyone to do so.
“My visit coincided with the recent visit of the trustees to Mirpur. I was pleasantly surprised at the standard of the facilities, quality of care and education being provided to the children. It didn’t feel like an ‘orphanage’. I was also impressed by the teachers and other personal staff, who seemed very dedicated. I was overwhelmed to see the children smiling and happy just like my own” said Maqsood Hussain Chairman of Pakistani centre, Uxbridge Community Centre, Burton on Trent, after his visit to KORT’s orphanage at Mirpur AJK.
Akhtar said that the land for this noble cause has been donated by Government of AJK, he said we are we grateful for the generosity of former Prime Minister Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan and also the current Prime Minister Ch. Abdul Majeed.
He said once again we are very grateful; to all the friends and families who joined us at fundraising dinner to help us to secure a big funding.