Saturday September 23, 2023

PBM plans national fundraiser to keep its projects going

June 10, 2023

Islamabad:Besides looking to the government for funds amid a cash crunch, the semi-autonomous charity Pakistan Baitul Mal is also planning to launch a national campaign to raise money for its ongoing projects.“While cash shortages coupled with record inflation forced us into minimising administrative expenditure and adopting austerity measures to divert funds to projects of public welfare, we've also asked the government for additional grants to keep those initiatives going. At the same time, a national fundraiser is on the anvil as an alternative financial model to ease our woes," PBM managing director Amir Fida Paracha told 'The News'.

Paracha also said his organisation was encouraging philanthropists to help provide assistive products to people with disabilities.He said the PBM, one of the country’s pioneer public sector social welfare organisations, had been working for the unprivileged people's access to food, healthcare and formal learning, empowerment of women, and eradication of child labour since its establishment in 1992, but budgetary constraints had hindered the effectiveness of its projects.

"Not only is the lack of funds shrinking the outreach of our medical and educational financial assistance and shelter home initiatives but it has limited our service delivery in emergency situations as well, badly impacting the accessibility of vulnerable populations to the basic necessities of life," he said.The PBM chief said his organisation was the first in both public and private sectors to give away assistive devices to persons with disabilities but that initiative, too, was badly hit by the cash crunch troubling those, who largely depended on that major support.

He said he and his team members were in contact with philanthropists and corporate organisations to claim their financial support for the provision of assistive products to PWDs. "Keeping in view the diversified scope of our social uplifting services, the government can provide additional grants or budget to us on priority to ensure the continuity of our welfare projects. At the same time, we are going to launch a national campaign to raise money, which, in case of success, will help address our financial woes," he said. Amir Fida Paracha also said international donor agencies like GIZ, ADB, DFID, World Bank, and United Nations could help restore the suspended welfare projects of the PBM and other social welfare organisations in the country.

He said his organisation was running soup kitchens and "shelter homes" on its own or through public-private partnerships, while the establishment of model shelter homes on the plots allotted by the capital's municipality, CDA, was also in the work. "Two floors of these buildings will be used for commercial activities to generate revenue to ensure the project's sustainability," he said. The PBM chief said his organisation had set up 40 Sweet Home orphanages in the country for abandoned children and an Old Home assisted living in Lahore for the uncared elderly, and planned more such facilities.

He said the Orphan and Widows Support Programme, a pilot, was being executed in 10 districts and once it was successful, it would be replicated in other parts of the country. Mr Paracha said there were also plans to put up more women empowerment centres in the country, including Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, to train poor women in both traditional and modern skills as demanded by the job market to ensure their financial security.He said after cash flow improvement, the PBM would also upgrade its schools for rehabilitation of child labour, expand the access of poor PWDs to free assistive devices, set up more thalassaemia centres, and increase cash handouts for the poor's education and healthcare.