The charitable organisation is winning hearts among the needy
SRINAGAR: Khadija is widowed and old. And has no income. At her age, she says, she would have to “wonder from place to place” looking for help had Athrout not come around to take care of Khadija in her old age.
A charitable organization that came about in 2007, Athrout has been helping people like Khadija with free medicine and other household stuff like groceries and clothes.
“They helped me in getting my daughters married,” says Khadija. “They have been looking after me since my husband died.”
Since its inception, Athrout has focused on six areas of need – medical and education support, monthly household support to families whose male members have been left physically challenged and are unable to work, empowerment schemes, marriage help for girls and Eid help. Almost 400 families benefit from the charitable organisation’s monthly assistance in running their household.
Bashir Nadwi, Athrout’s chairman, says that his organisation provides ambulance, nebulizers, oxygen concentration machines and dialysis free of cost to poor and at a very low cost to people from lower groups.
“We have a medical store called Rahat, where medicines are given free of cost to poor and at low cost to low income people. In coming days, we will get equipment to check the efficacy of the medicines so that we ensure poor people get quality treatment,” said Bashir.
While Athrout’s has brought it recognition across the valley, it was not until 2014 floods that the non-governmental organisation etched itself in people’s memory.
During floods that year, Nadwi says, that Athrout rescued hundreds of Kashmiris and tourists trapped in their homes in areas submerged in flood water. “We provided food and other essential commodities to flood hit people. We evacuated patients and doctors from various hospital and set up community kitchens for them. Also, we supplied medicines to hospitals and cleaned hospitals, private schools and other public spaces,” he said.
Athrout thus cemented its reputation as an organisation that provided disaster relief – whether during natural calamities or in conflict situations. In 2016, for example, Athrout was at the forefront to provide free ambulance service, food and clothes to injured and their attendants at different hospitals in Srinagar. It also helps fire victims financially as well as with a household kit to start rebuilding their home.
While its area of work is expanding, Athrout claims to have 600 donors supporting its cause. It also gets Zakat in and Sadqai Fitr in Ramadhan from various religious places. The organisation has donation boxes at various business establishments, like shops and departmental stores, where people donate money. On Eid ul Zuha, Athrout collects sheep skins which adds a part to its collections.
This money, the organiser’s say is spend judiciously, taking care that the neediest people benefit from the charitable work. A team of two persons is constituted to check the authenticity of the person’s case who comes seeking help. “After proper surveying and discussion, we decide which case will be taken up for help and which not. Every week, we get 7-8 new cases,” said Umer, a volunteer at Athrout.
In future, Athout plans to focus on health issues among women. It is coming up with the hospital exclusively for women, where all employees will be females so that women folk don’t have to feel uncomfortable in discussing their health issues. In addition to this, Athrout will start a 12-bed dialysis center before Eid ul Adha. A women empowerment center and a school are among the future plans too. Cafe on go, one of the empowerment schemes, will be launched soon – the idea is to help people earn their livelihood.