Don’t give them fish, train them to make the fishing net
The world may not know but there is one thing that we, Pakistanis’ do a good job of and can be very proud of. That is charitable work. Pakistanis have a good reputation for charitable work. When calculated against the total GDP the ratio of charitable funds that Pakistanis spend on donation or charitable work is impressive. It’s a good sign and shows the soft nature of this nation. Whenever a difficult time came, or even in normal days, Pakistani charitable machinery proved its effectiveness. Tons of charitable organizations led by extremely dedicated and selfless individuals or groups of individuals operate in Pakistan on a missionary basis which continues every day. So much so that in some areas they almost completely replace the government infrastructure, if any, rather than just pitching in.
Its very difficult to list all the organizations that are doing good work as there are so, both registered and unregistered, many but few which are more commonly known include Edhi Foundation, Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital, Chhipa Welfare Association, Aurat Foundation, Ansar Burney Trust, Minhaj Welfare Foundation, Aga Khan Foundation, Al-Khidmat Foundation, EHSAS and Fatimid Foundation. Additionally, lots of smaller groups run daily dastarkhwan (food bank) for hundreds of thousands of needy people. This charitable work may include supporting one or few families supported on a routine basis by one or more unnamed individuals and may cover providing rations, delivering foods, cash, clothing, household goods, marriage expenses, operating orphanages, shelters for women and/or elderly, paying medical expenses, etc.
This is all very good work, but the is not sustainable and we are just taking the easy way out. We spend our own money or received donations on helping, earn a quick gratification and done. If donations continue pouring in, people are helped and fed. Also, in most of the cases, the plight and conditions of the individuals or families being helped remain the same. If for some reason the donations start to reduce or fully dry up, the help or feeding the needy stops. And the needy remain needy or hungry remain hungry.
It is unfortunate but this charitable work has a negative aspect as well. Though it is never intended but it is human nature to start taking things for granted. When someone starts getting things provided, they can become lazy, loses initiative to work and over a period can become dependent on this help. Further by providing things we are helping them survive, not preparing them to fight their way back.
Sure, in several situations the people who are being helped are elderly or sick or both and need urgent help but that is not the case for all who get helped. Those who are able bodied, healthy, have some or can get some educated, have some or can get some skills should be helped and fed but more importantly should be helped to work or find work so they can get out of this vicious circle, earn and help and feed others in the family. Otherwise they will always remain dependent on this charity and will loose whatever is left of their self respect.
As they say, “don’t give them fish, train them to make the fishing net”. The mind set of charitable work should change. Its objective should become preparing and encouraging people to work rather than just feeding them. The charitable organizations should divide the donation funds they receive, in two clear heads. One, and a smaller portion, for feeding the hungry and second and the bigger portion for encouraging, educating, training and helping people to find work.
Their activities should change their focus to
- educating the kids
- educating adults
- training men and women on job related skills
- helping them finding work
- encouraging every family member to work
- building up their self-respect and self confidence
- initiating programs where people can work and produce something of value
- helping them starting home based business
- providing financial assistance to individuals to self-employ
Similarly, individual donors, me, you and others, should not only donate their money but also time and expertise to educate, train or prepare the needy people for working, or by creating programs that may help them starting some business or produce something. Qarz e hasna for some small business, sewing machines for women, process/technology to produce something at home, distribution channel for their products/services etc. are some similar examples that would bring them out of this poverty cycle but would make them a proud and happy individual too.
Think about it.
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May 26, 2020