Redirection needed

Zamir  Ahmad

A harsh reality of our society is the large number of orphans and destitute women who have nobody to look upto for their survival and livelihood. This despite the fact that many voluntary organizations have set up orphanages where free food, shelter and education is provided.

Apart from the local organizations, there are various national and international organizations as well which have set base in the valley and are providing succor to these unfortunate children. Lately smaller institutions have popped up in various localities housing a dozen or so hapless children and providing them elementary religious education.

Quite a few local organizations developed into robust institutions, are being run professionally and have even tied up with reputed and credible international NGOs for various programmes. There are others who have been allotted free land by the state government to set up campuses which would try to replicate normal living environs for the children.

It also seems pertinent to re-examine the whole issue of development of support systems for the underprivileged. This becomes all the more important because of the sheer size of the problem and unnerving numbers to deal with.

Take for example, the names of such institutions. Pray, why is it necessary to use the word ‘orphanage’, “Yateem Khana” etc for the buildings that house these hapless kids.

And please, can we avoid radio or television to raise money for these institutions. The commercials made for the purpose are abhorring, to say the least. The menace of using vehicles fitted with loud speakers asking for money in our colonies is an another affront to the sensibilities of the very children for whom the money is supposedly collected. Come the holy month of Ramadhan and all these brazen ways of raising funds make the orphans feel like beggars. All such means amount to institutionalized beggary even if for a genuine cause.

Nowadays one witnesses hordes of men descending upon sub-urban localities during the daytime when the men folk are away and seeking donations for non-descript institutions in some remote areas. They literally threaten the women-folk in paying whatever amounts they have. Nobody knows what happens to the money collected in this way.

The more important facet of this issue is the way these orphanages run. Mass meals, mass prayers, regimented lives and ‘dormitoried’ sleep hours and exclusivist life may not be the proper way to rear a child. A natural setting is essential for proper development of a child. There are ways to do that also and many organizations worldwide have successfully adopted such models of rehabilitation of deprived childhoods.

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