LONDON: As Malala Yousufzai undergoes treatment at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital, several people in the British Pakistani community have become active to raise money in her name to “promote education”.
Fears are growing that the public will donate money in the girl’s name but there is little transparency and clarity in how these funds are raised, where the money will be spent and who will oversee the fundraising as well as the implementation.
The issues is so serious that Pakistan High Commission and Queen Elizabeth Hospital told The News on Thursday that Malala’s family has not authorized any individual or organization to collect any donation or fund for setting up any institution by using the name of Malala.
In an extraordinary statement, the PHC warned: “The impression that Malala’s family and the High Commission for Pakistan in UK are supporting any individual or organization to establish any institution using the name of Malala is incorrect. The onus of responsibility or authenticity for any such project will lie on the sponsor. Those who are using the name of Malala or the High Commission for Pakistan in UK for setting up any project or collecting donations should refrain from it. The Pakistan High Commission and Malala’s family recognize only one Fund that has been set up by the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham for Malala.”
A hospital spokesman said the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham Charity (QEHB Charity) has set up an account within the main hospital fund to support Malala and it had not extended support to any organisation or individual outside. “The QEHB Charity funds equipment, research and training which is over and above that which the NHS provides and aims to make a difference to the lives of patients, visitors and staff at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB),” the spokesman told The News.
It’s interesting that when Malala was shot by a Taliban gunman, man community members made media statement pledging to bear all expenditures of Malala’s treatment in the UK if she were to be brought over. It’s been more than a month that Malala is in the UK and while ordinary people have contributed for the special fund the hospital has set up to raise funds for Malala, not a single penny has been paid by those who shouted from the roof that they will pay for costs of the 16-year-old brave girl’s treatment.
The News is aware that those have paid into Malala’s fund are ordinary members of the community and none of them is from the club of “community leaders”.
Instead, Malala’s tragedy is being seen as another money-making venture by some people. A Pakistani organisation this week chose the House of Lords to launch an initiative called “Malala Girls School Project” but broke the rules governing events in the House of Parliament when at least £1,500 were raised.
When approached by The News, the organiser of the event had no idea where the school in Pakistan will be built, when and of the estimated £100,000 needed to build the school how much the organiser will contribute.
A Houses of Parliament spokesperson said that it is not acceptable for charities to ask “attendees directly for financial or other kinds of support. “The sponsoring Member must provide the registered charity number on the booking form” but no such number was provided.
An MP had booked the event on her name where funds were raised. She was not available on her phone when this scribe tried to contact her but the Parliament spokesman added: “Functions are not to be used for the purposes of direct or indirect financial or material gain by a sponsoring Member, political party, or any other person or outside organisation”.
Another showbiz organisation in London is selling tickets for a fashion show in Malala’s name this weekend.
The organisation said it was organising a two-day fashion show over the weekend in which funds will be raised for Malala and many models and designers have been flown in from Pakistan for the event. When the organisers were asked why the fashion event was being held in the month of Muharram and how the money raised will benefit Malala and whether the consent of Malala’s family or hospital was sought, the spokesperson refused to answer. It is understood that the organisers had problem selling tickets to the event and then the decision was taken to use Malala’s name and a new campaign was branded.
A Charity Commission spokesperson said it was disturbing that funds were being collected without any charity formally working in this regard. “We don’t have any application pending with reference to Malala’s name or her cause. We would always recommend that people give money to the registered charities.”
Mr Ziauddin Yousafzai, father of Malala has categorically stated that in future any proposal related with Malala should be routed through the High Commission for Pakistan in UK.