KARACHI: Several welfare organisations, which used to be an important source of food and ration for the needy, especially in Ramazan, are facing a paucity of funds and donations while the rising cost of food items has severely affected their capacity to provide relief goods to the poor as skyrocketing inflation has doubled their problems.
The non-governmental organisations are struggling to keep up with their work as growing inflation and rising prices have dented the donors’ ability to provide funds this year.
Another problematic aspect of their work is how to deal with the mobs, which are nowadays suddenly turning up at stalls set up distributing relief goods or food in the metropolis and often become involved in loot and plunder of charity goods kept at the stalls for the deserving people.
“Slowly, the hardships are increasing,” Edhi Foundation head Faisal Edhi told Reuters. “We are worried. We are trying to get more donations but people have tightened the purse strings, and we are receiving fewer items as donations now.”
Rising inflation has doubled problems as donors and NGOs both feel the pinch
His wife Saba, who is in charge of the foundation’s network of orphanages, said she had to dip into savings to cover the cost of the Eid gifts, as this year no donations of readymade garments or unstitched cloth had come in, unlike previous years. “We purchased some readymade items and unstitched cloth, jewellery, bangles, shoes and other things from our own funds,” according to Reuters.
“Last year, by this time we had distributed some 300 ration bags already, but this year our donors have been asking us to wait,” Daniyal Hussain, the founder of Save A Life Welfare Association told Dawn.
He added that the ration bag which they used to prepare for Rs3,200 last year, now cost around Rs5,800. “We make ration bags which include pulses, rice, ghee, oil, etc, which is enough for a month for a family of four. Last year, this ration bag used to cost us around Rs3,200, but this year, it is no less than 5,800 in the same wholesale market.”
Hassan Adeel of NGO Bhookay Nahi Soyengai told Dawn that his organisation set up a welfare Eid bazaar where they distributed clothes, watches, bangles and Mehndi. “The items that we used to get for Rs15, for example, are now around Rs70-Rs80 at least,” he said.
When asked about the welfare bazaar for people, he recalled that once they were distributing clothes, jackets and blankets in cold weather, they were attacked by drug addicts and others. “This is why we avoid setting up a bazaar, and even when we set up an Eid bazaar, we have security for that.”
An activist, who runs a charity organisation and wished not to be named, told Dawn that a video of people attacking a welfare bazaar and looting it late last month was not the first incident as several such incidents had happened before.
“We used to set up a welfare bazaar for people where we provide fruits and other items, which are usually served to break the fast, like samosas and pakoras. And we also used to set up an Iftar Dastarkhwan as well, but we were not only beaten, everything at the stall was also looted, even out utensils,” he said.
Responding to a question, he alleged that there were often traders who were involved in such activities, but every time we faced it, it was purely the common people who attacked the items out of greed. “They are not hungry, they are greedy. Hungry people don’t act that way,” he said.
Published in Dawn, April 20th, 2023