Volunteer Time

Kashmir having a massive destitute population is something that neither requires education nor a survey. Every lane and every village has got its own share of the crisis that the situation prevailing since 1989 created.

While the orphans and widows are easily recognized throughout, a vast chunk of population of half-widows and the aged people who have lost their children are usually not on radar.

It is a well-recognized fact that the society with its limited means and resources is taking care of a part of the destitute population. In fact, the society through its organized and dis-organized efforts are contributing substantially for the care of the unfortunate through some institutions. The government is also contributing but it has its own priorities, systems and the inhibitions in making destitution management a grand success.

Quite a few of these institutions are eligible to seek government funding for their operations. Barely one or two might be registered to get the foreign contributions. So most of them are raising their resources locally and the populations living within the state are their contributors. That is what has been happening in Kashmir for a long time.

People do contribute voluntarily during the month of fasting. In fact most of the resources are being created in this very month by these institutions.

However, what we are missing in this sphere of activity is that our efforts begin and end with the contributions of money we are making to the individuals who approach us. That should normally be just the beginning of it.

Vibrant societies do make charities but they ask questions, sometimes uncomfortable as well. The donors should know where their contributions are going and how they are being spent. Right now quite a few organizations fall in that category which are publishing their balance sheets and undergoing audit.

But the major activity on this front that Kashmir society has ignored is the voluntary involvement. While we are contributing part of our earnings, we can start thinking about contributing time.

Every year, Kashmir gets scores of young men and women – the second generation non –resident Kashmiris living in US, UK and other places – who contribute their time to different social causes. Some of them come and teach voluntarily in schools lacking required teaching capacity. Some of them trace local NGOs and help them in framing their approaches and visions to issues. In certain cases, their certificates recording voluntary work counts in their academic performance and even in careers.

This is high time, we should start working on these concepts. The best managed schools n Kashmir could make a start in this. It would serve the schools, the students and the society and it would not cost anything.

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