By Mohammed Shafeeq,
Hyderabad : There is no dearth of generous people in society who want to do something for the less fortunate, but their help often doesn’t reach the needy or gets misappropriated. To make charity a satisfying experience that brings the intended results to both benefactor and beneficiary, a Hyderabad-based group, Safa Baitul Maal, is showing the way by creating and using data to link the rich with the poor and needy.
Every month, this educational, welfare and charitable trust spends Rs 70-80 lakh on its charitable activities in different states. Set up by Moulana Gayas Ahmed Rashadi in 2006, the organisation has 70 branches in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Assam, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha and Madhya Pradesh.
Headed by a group of five “ulemas” or religious scholars, Safa Baitul Maal has a 450-strong staff who are paid salaries. “We make sure that the aid by the rich reach those who are genuinely needy,” Moulana Rashadi told IANS.
He is also trying to bring ulemas into the field of charity. The organisation is roping in the imams of mosques in its activities. “The imam of a mosque is not just the head of that mosque but he is the head of the people of his area, irrespective of their religion,” he said.
Every day the organisation’s call centre in Hyderabad receives 400-500 calls, both from those who are in need of help and those who want to donate. The organisation ensures transparency in such a way that every donor can get all the details of how his money was spent and the names and contact numbers of the beneficiaries.
“Whoever approaches us seeking help has to provide all the details and we send our people to cross-check the information provided by the applicant,” said M.A. Muqtadir Imran, in-charge of the Safa’s branches.
Based on the findings of the survey, the applicants are issued white, yellow or pink cards, enabling them to receive aid in varying degrees.
Safa Baitul Maal receives ‘Zakat’, ‘Fitra’, ‘Sadqa’ and other charities and donations from the people. However, collection of house-hold scrap is its biggest source of income. On an average, it receives 100 calls to pick up old items from houses in Hyderabad.
The group runs 12 vehicles to pick up the scrap and shift it to its workshop. Some items, which are in good condition, are repaired and sold at its unit at Bandlaguda at affordable prices to mobilise funds. The organisation earns Rs 18-19 lakh from scrap and the money is ploughed back into charity activities.
In Hyderabad alone, the organisation is sponsoring the education of 150 orphans, spending Rs 2,000 on each child per month on school fees and food. A representative visits the schools to monitor their academic progress. The children are provided free uniforms and books.
In addition, Rs 1,000 is deposited every month for every student in a mutual fund to take care of their higher education. Half of this money is contributed by another organisation, the Saleha Rasheed Trust.
A similar number of widows are provided assistance of Rs 1,000 each while the physically and mentally handicapped are given Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,000.
In poor and backward neighbourhoods like Kishan Bagh and Baba Nagar, Safa conducted surveys to identify orphans, widows, the handicapped and others who are really in need of help.
Every day, the organisation conducts medical camps in 26 identified slums in Hyderabad, covering one slum every day. The beneficiaries are examined by a team and are given free medicines. The white card holders are also eligible for free tests in a diagnostic centre run by Safa. It also runs three healthcare centres. The trust spends Rs 8 lakh every month on health activities.
The organisation has a unique system for providing assistance for marriages. Safa extends help on condition that the marriages should be performed on its date, with its expenses and at its venue. “We spend Rs 50,000 to Rs 60,000 on each marriage, providing the couple with furniture and house-hold items,” Imran said.
Safa runs 10 tailoring centres, which train over 1,000 women. It invites fashion designers to train the faculty. A manufacturing centre set up by the state government’s Minorities Welfare Department and administered by Safa trains dozens of women with 40 machines.
Safa also provides microfinance through interest-free loans to small businessmen. Vendors take Rs 3,000 a week as loan and they are allowed to repay in six weeks. Those prompt in repayment are extended higher assistance.
In the holy month of Ramadan, Safa distributes 25,000 ration packets worth 50 lakh among the needy. It also distributes packets on Eid.
On Eid-ul-Azha, Safa organises the sacrifice of cattle in 600 villages across different states to ensure that the poor and the needy get meat.
As lot of food is wasted in Information Technology companies every day, Safa recently tied up with couple of MNCs to collect food, pack it and distribute it among the hungry.
Digging of borewells, distribution of sewing machines among women, education kits to poor students, arrangement to provide drinking water at few government-run hospitals during summer, distribution of blankets among madarsa students and those living on footpaths, construction of mosques in villages and summer camps for students are some of the other activities of Safa.
Organisations like Hyderabad Zakat and Charitable Trust (HZCT) and Helping Hand are also tying up with Safa Baitul Maal to provide assistance to the needy.
Rahman Foundation run by eminent religious scholar Moulana Sajjad Naomani in Uttar Pradesh sent its staff to Safa for training. Assam MP Badruddin Ajmal, along with a team from his Ajmal Foundation, also visited Safa to study its unique functioning.
(The weekly feature series is part of a positive-journalism project of IANS and the Frank Islam Foundation. Mohammed Shafeeq can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org )