The refugee camps in Jammu and Kashmir house hundreds of thousands of Kashmiri Pandits displaced from their homes as a direct result of the Islamic militancy in the valley. This tragedy has resulted in children being denied the opportunities that we take for granted. Since 1995, the Kashmiri Overseas Association, USA has implemented the Sponsor-A-Child Program for the age group 5 year olds to 17 year olds. This program aims to provide educational opportunities to the children directly affected by the tragedy. While individuals worldwide have contributed to these programs more children are in need of our financial support than currently available funds can support, there are many more that deserve our assistance.
To provide tuition, school supplies and living expenses to school children who are currently living in refugee camps.
The program started in 1995 to bring much-needed financial help to the indigent children of school-going age, from the refugee camps that have sprouted around Jammu in the wake of the exodus of the KP community from Kashmir. Shri Pran N. Kaul of Fremont, CA is the program coordinator. He maintains a list of children in need of support, with the help of a local liaison in Jammu, which he furnishes to prospective sponsors on request. In the first year 36 children were supported through this program.
Community members and friends of the community are approached to take part in this program by becoming sponsors. Some community members have set up foundations in the name of their loved ones and are encouraged to sponsor through their foundations. There are some employers who match funds for such non-profit charitable causes. Sponsors are requested to explore such a possibility with their employers. Every drop helps.
The cost of sponsoring a child was originally pegged down at about $16 per month. During the past few years it has however, become evident that the cost is around $225 per year. Contributions to the children are tax deductible, if routed through KOA.
100% of the funds collected are distributed to the selected children through a registered non-profit organization in India. All people managing and coordinating these programs are volunteers.
Sponsors/Donors select the child they want to support from the list(s) furnished to them by the program coordinator on request. Payments are typically made by sponsors every six months, though a great number of them make yearly payments. Sponsors are required to mail their checks for the children to Shri Pran Kaul who keeps track of all payments and sends reminders to sponsors to mail their checks when due. After receiving checks from sponsors, KOA in turn issues checks in the name of the children, which are mailed to liaison in Jammu, for distribution.
Update and Liaison
With a view to fostering rapport between the sponsors and the children supported by them, the children are encouraged and exhorted to write to their sponsors and vice versa. It not only helps the child feel a sense of belonging, but it also provides a unique opportunity to a sponsor to be a mentor to a hapless child who is otherwise adrift in a sea of misery, and without any sense of purpose or direction. Sponsors are expected and encouraged to evince interest in a child’s education by keeping track of his or her progress at school by asking for progress reports or marks cards and other similar documents issued by a school periodically.
KOA appeals to all the community members and friends of the community to rise to the occasion, as the need of providing financial help, counsel and guidance to the children is acute and real. Their parents are invariably either illiterate or lack the wherewithal to be of any help to their children. Our responsibility and commitment to these children is not just limited to mailing checks to them, but we have to play a much broader role in shaping their future, otherwise a whole generation will be lost for good. It is our duty to help a fellow KP in need; we owe this to ourselves and to our community. The time to make a difference is now, not tomorrow or a year from now. Needless to say, this is the best way to help our less fortunate brethren back home. KOA thanks all the sponsors who have supported the children over the past several years and take active interest in the welfare of the children. We would like to utilize this opportunity to appeal to others who have preferred to remain on the sidelines, to step on the plate and bring much-needed succor to a fellow KP in need and in a state of abject penury. If you are not a sponsor yet, please become one. Your community needs you.
Donations are tax-deductible
Provide your assistance today and help create a better family for tomorrow. There are needy and deserving children who will receive an education with your contribution. Together we can make a difference in the lives of our less fortunate children. To join this program as sponsors or if you need more information, please contact KOA.
Together we can make a difference in the lives of our less fortunate brethren. We thank you again for your support.