SRINAGAR: While Eid is celebrated all across Kashmir, thousands of young boys and girls will spend the day in orphanages, miles away from their loved ones.
To give these children a sense of the togetherness on Eid, a number of non-governmental organizations have been collecting sadkah and zakat from the general public through throughout the month of Ramzan.
People from across the valley have been dropping in at these organizations to offer donations. The idea, the managers of these organizations say, is to create a sense of belonging among these orphans and ensure a ‘honourable and dignified’ living for the inmates.
On Sunday, at Rahat Manzil, an orphanage run by Jammu and Kashmir Yateem Khaanah in Bemina, people donate rice, vegetables, bakery and other essential commodities besides cash.
Home to around 306 boys of different ages, the orphanage has been providing them free accommodation, food, education, medical facilities and other essentials since 1998.
“We have no foreign source of funding. The only source of income we have is the donations coming from the public. Only if they donate does our centre run smoothly,” says the general secretary of the Jammu and Kashmir Yateem Khaanah, Shaqeeq Aijaz.
Like every year, this centre has been preparing for the Eid celebrations for many days. A delicious feast, new clothes and ediyane (pocket money on Eid) are among the things these children look forward to.
“Apart from the administration, we feel utterly overwhelmed when outsiders come here on the very first day of Eid to provide us pocket money. By their visits, we get the feeling that not only those who are running this centre but every Kashmiri cares for us,” says 15-year-old Sameer Ahmad, who hails from border district Kupwara.
Standing in the Yateem Khaanah lawns, Ahmad is eagerly awaiting Eid celebrations to begin. “We too are almost all done with our preparations,” says Ahmad.
A UK-based child rights organisation, Save the Children, estimates the number of orphans in Jammu and Kashmir to have crossed 2,00,000. As per the group, 37 percent of these children have been orphaned by the ongoing armed conflict in the state. Fifteen percent of them live in orphanages.
These institutions mainly survive on charity. While markets in the valley have been witnessing a slump in business following last year’s uprising and the demonetisation in India, people have nonetheless responded positively to donation calls from these centres.
“There might have been some effect on economic activities here, but we still received donations the way we used to in previous years,” says Aijaz.
However, one of the largest orphanages in the Valley, the Jammu and Kashmir Yateem Trust feels that people this year have cut a good percentage from their donations due to losses suffered over the last twelve months.
“This year, we believe just half the donations were offered compared to earlier years, especially by traders, due to heavy losses suffered last year. For example, in Lal Chowk, we used to receive around Rs 20,000 each from 20 traders, and this year, they didn’t even approach us,” an administrator of the trust told Kashmir Reader.
Despite the cut back, he says, the trust has made reasonable arrangements for Eid celebrations at their orphanages. “The Almighty is helping us in our efforts,” he says.