Beyond Violence 

Mohtaat Atiyaat - Promoting Safer Charity Practices

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Pakistani households are generous to the tunes of billions, yet nearly a third are still poor

Pakistan has a strong culture of giving. According to the study on the State of Individual Philanthropy in Pakistan "nearly 98 percent of households reporting giving for various social causes in one form or the other (cash, in-kind, or time volunteered), providing opportunity for civil society organizations to tap this practice of charitable giving and volunteering". The total value of this charity being PKR 240 billion. Religion is the main motivation behind donations. In fact, being Muslims, we believe that charity should be given to the needy and deserving people. Despite the generosity of the Pakistani people, including poor households comprising the 98%,55 million Pakistanis are living under poverty line. For this reason, many people are wondering where, exactly, all the money went.

There are lots of risks in charity since we usually make donations without any verification. Moreover, when we give charity to Madrasas, Islam seminaries in Pakistan, we also hesitate to ask the focal person of Madrasas where and how they will spend our money due to respect and religious ideology of giving. This lack of control and of verification tools might results in some amount of that charity ending up in the wrong hands and even end up financing terrorism and extremism in Pakistan.

Collaboration for Success:
To overcome such situation, a series of 10 seminars and 30 dialogue sessions on safe charity practices were held under the Joint Venture of Initiative for Peace and Development and the Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage at Multan Chamber of Commerce & Industry. The purpose was to curb the financing of terrorist organizations by educating people who to give to and how to verify those organizations.

Overcoming the Sources of conflict:
The main objective of these seminars and dialogue sessions was to sensitize the executive committee members, trade associations, businessmen, industrialist, philanthropists, and local influencers on the importance of verifying the use that is made of their donations. A platform was provided for open discussion. Participants were further engaged on the issues of combating terrorism in Pakistan and their contribution towards reduction of extremism, poverty, and promoting a healthy Pakistan through informed donations.

Bringing Peace at every sector:
People were invited to the Multan Chamber of Commerce and Industry during the month of Ramadan to attend the seminars. In order to reach a wider public, dialogue sessions were organized in markets and local shops so that everyone could benefit from this campaign. IPAD delivered its message on Safer Charity to as many people as possible.

Interaction with People:
The IPAD project team distributed a feedback form to all participants on which various questions were asked and people answered it from their own perspective. Many positive responses demonstrate the value of this initiative:

“You also need to use social and electronic media to spread this message. Please cover rural areas as well where people have limited knowledge about charity, which could cause big dangers to people and this country as well.”
“We can remove poverty from our country if and only if our charities and money are used properly. These charities could help poor in their daily lives, marriages, etc. We need to make community organizations in every area which could monitor charities and funds in a proper way.”
“Government institutions need to build trust among people, so that people don’t feel reluctant in giving charities and animal hides to government organizations which is the best solution.”
“I appreciate your discussion about fighting against national problem i.e. “Terrorism and Extremism”. Good job, it will create awareness among people about safer charity.”

Fatima Jaffery is Pakistan Campaign Manager at Beyond Violence. She is currently working with Intiative for Peace and Development, an independent, non-partisan and non-profit organization working in Pakistan on the issues associated with peace and development.

Written by Fatima Jaffery and published on 05-May-2017

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