Following the mass exodus of our Kashmiri Pandit community from the Kashmir valley in early 1990 as a result of the armed unrest and killings , our community was forced to leave their home and hearth behind and live a life of abject poverty and humiliation in camps in and around Jammu . Since then 23 yrs have passed and our community continues to live in exile with a strong yearning to return to their homeland with respect and dignity .
Sponsor a child initiative was started in 2001 under the banner of Kashmiri Pandit Association Of Europe ( UK ) ,with the aim to provide much needed educational aid to the children living in the KP migrant camps in and around Jammu . Since its inception, our benevolent community members in the UK have given their ongoing support by providing educational aid of £ 150 / per child sponsored on a yearly basis, living in different camps of Jammu . This assistance has been gratefully received by the children and their families and they have expressed their highest appreciation for this kind and thoughtful gesture . This aid has helped children to pay for their school fees , buy school uniform ,books , stationary and other related expenses .
The programme was reviewed in 2008 during Dr Chandan Kotwal's visit to Jammu and this coincided with Mrs Krishna Bhans visit ( President IEKF ) . The KPAE team met Prof. AN Sadhu who was acting President after the unfortunate death of Shri TN Khosa sahab ( in February ) ,who had been instrumental in coordinating the previous aid efforts on the ground and would keep regular email contact with me .
The team visited Muthi Migrant camp and met many residents and the youth to see the hardships and difficulties that they were facing in their day to day lives. The team also participated in a meeting organized by Mr Ramesh Hangloo at the camp mandir and also offered prayers led by swami kumarji.
Subsequently, the team also met the Sponsored children and their parents at the KP Sabha in Ambphalla ,who were very thankful for the educational sponsorship money. The team gave cash aid to some of the children and took some photographs with them .
Following this visit, the list of sponsored children was revised as some children had completed school and new deserving children were included for the educational aid.
The KPAE team started the visit by visiting the KP Sabha Ambphalla on 14th April morning and learnt that preparations for the election of the president at the end of the month were being made . The team was greeted by Mr Ashokji Khar who is one of the senior officials of the Sabha . He introduced the team to Mr Mahraj Krishan Pandita . It was learnt that about 1100 families from different camps in Jammu ( 384 Purkhu , 400 Muthi –Buta nagar and 384 Nagrota ) had been allotted 2 room flats as part of phase 1 in 2008 .
Currently 4272 flats have been constructed at one site in Jagti- Nagrota to resettle KP families, who were previously living in various make shift camps in Jammu . Ialso learnt that at present the Government is giving 9 Kg Rice and Rs 1250 per person as part of monthly subsistence (Rs 5000 per family).
After the preliminary meeting, Mr Pandita offered to take the team to Jagati camp to meet the families of the children.
As the team approached Jagati colony, they felt a sense of satisfaction & relief on seeing our brothers and sisters living in permanent flats and some of them taking a stroll in the park near the entrance gates. The team took some photographs at the gates and then proceeded to meet up with the children and their families and also took photographs with them . Details of those met have been given below.
The following day Mr Pandita kindly took the team to visit children living in and around Jammu .Despite looking long and hard for their respective addresses, the team could not locate some of the children, as the house numbering was not systematic .
Family of Neha Tickoo ( single mother ) . Child Arjun Tickoo ( 10th std )
Although the families of majority of the displaced migrants have been allotted 2 room flats and some have also made their own houses in the outskirts of Jammu and Nagrota, nevertheless there remains a need to continue with the sponsorship support for the school going children . This is necessary as most of the children’s parents are doing low paying jobs /are self employed as shop keepers and vendors or even unemployed and that the government dole is a paltry sum of Rs 1200 pm with 9 kgrice per person . Surely you would agree that our dignified and proud KP brothers and sisters deserve whatever financial support that they can get in their current unfortunate circumstances ,which have not improved significantly in the last 23 yrs . We would request all of you to kindly continue the educational aid for the children . We will agree with us that a £ 150 / yr/child is not a big some for us and we can afford to give this in charity for our less fortunate brethren .
The KPAE team would like to and thank the following benevolent KP community members ( in the UK ) who have whole heartedly contributed (at various stages ) to the the KPAE Sponsorship programme since 2002 .
Mst Arjun Tickoo, Mst Akash Bhat , Mst Arun Pandita (child with hearing &speech difficulty) , Mst Ashish Khar , Mst Pawan Pandita , Mst Rohit Raina ,Mst Rahul Marahata , Mst Robin Pandita , Mst Sameer Cherwoo , Mst SahilCherwoo , Mst Sachin Matoo , Mst Sahil Dhar , Mst Sanju Bhushan Bhat , MstSanjay Bhat , Mst Shalinder , Mst Surinder Bhat , Mst Sunil Zutshi , MstVishal Kaul
Ms Akriti Raina , Ms Arushi Kachroo , Ms Archana Shangloo , Ms HimangaliSharma , Ms Komal Kaul , Ms Neha Bhat , Ms Rashmi Kaul , Ms RomitaWattal , Ms Ruchi Pandita , Ms Shakuntala Tickoo , Ms Shanoo Pandita , MsSheetal Bhat , Ms Sheenam Bhat , Ms Shweta Bhat , Ms Sunita Safaya , Ms Sunaina Kumari
To streamline the sponsorship programme and enshrine its principle & ethos in any future KPAE community aid & sponsorship plans. This will look at wider participation and involvement of the KP community in the UK, with the greater aim to build a KP charitable base in UK / Europe that can link up with other KP charities in India and other countries of the world . This will contribute towards building a world wide KP charitable funding pool , which can be used to support the financially weaker sections of the KP community in their times of need , be it educational needs or to meet any other calamities they face ( medical emergencies , financial crisis etc .. ) .
We are a very small community of about 7-8 lakh ( approximately 800,000 ) people worldwide . Since 1990 exodus the majority have been living as internally displaced people in India, outside of our homeland Kashmir . We have a responsibility to nurture and instil a sense of pride and ownership in our younger generation towards their Kashmiri heritage, so as to enable them to believe in the beauty and uniqueness of our ethnic identity and culture as Kashmiri Pandits and to develop fraternal bonds of brotherhood amongst their fellow community members and endeavour to preserve this spirit for all times to come .
An updated list of children based on their needs will be prepared and we will request all the kind patrons to continue their support and also urge new members to come forward to strengthen the programme. We all need to pledge that never again should any of our community members suffer the pain and want as has been witnessed numerous times in the history of our people over the centuries .
Dr Chandan Kotwal & Mrs Krishna Bhan : Coordinator KPAE Sponsor a Child Programme ( UK)
Dated : 20 /09 /2012