Tell us about yourself
I am Faizan Hasan Khan, 26, from Downtown Srinagar. I am a Post Graduate in Civil Engineering. Although I studied engineering but my passion is elsewhere. From a very young age I aspired to help needy. As everyone is aware of the troubled times Kashmir has gone through and as a result of which many people suffered. The sufferings of the people were overwhelming for me personally and from an early age had a profound impact on my imagination. For many years the desire to do something for my people remained just an aspiration till an incident jolted me out of complacency- my father’s sudden death.
Tell us about Mukhtar Memorial Society and what inspired you to start it
In a tragic turn of events my father passed away in an accident in the year 2005. Just the year before his death he had founded an organization called the Mukhtar Memorial Society, but sadly the organization could not start work due to his death. I was just a 15 year old boy back then, shattered with this sudden episode and knowing nothing of what to do next.
Something just didn’t let me sleep for days as I read my father’s dairy about his vision for this NGO and I wanted to make his vision my dream and my passion.
So it was after the death of my father that I planned to start this NGO just to fulfill his dream and carry on the work that he could not execute. The NGO was already registered but it was just limited paper work as till then there was no work to show on the ground.
Tell us how did you set up Mukhtar Memorial Society
Starting the NGO was not an easy task for me as I was just sixteen then. I had to face huge criticism from relatives, friends and even my own family members. They wanted me to complete my studies first and then involve myself in this field. But the hope of making my father’s dream come true always gave me huge inner strength and support.
It was in December 2006 after I gave my 10th class board exams I started working on the things that I needed to establish an efficient NGO. I used to keep searching the internet to gain as much knowledge as possible about how NGOs work. I would ask advice from my cousin Wasim Bhat as well who worked for an international NGO. My family by now was a little bit more supportive of my ideas and interest as I had secured high percentage in my board exams and I convinced them that I would not let my studies suffer because of the engagements my social work would necessarily entail.
Soon after gaining adequate knowledge about the working of NGO’s, I started to complete all the pending paperwork that an NGO requires. This I managed to finish by the year 2006. I opened an NGO account, applied for antecedent certificate, got the copy of the bye laws, set up an office, a small one at my home in Saida Kadal, created a logo for the organization. All this I did was using my own pocket money that I had collected over the years as now Social Work became my passion. To help people in misery became a goal, more or less a duty.
In the March of 2008 when Kashmir was in great turmoil and the people had to face continued inconvenience due to strikes and curfews I got to know of people who did not have anything to eat, their children were starving. Usually the lone bread earner was a laborer, a newspaper vendor or an auto driver who couldn’t venture out in those days to earn their daily bread. It was then I started the “Financial Assistance Scheme for Poor & Disadvantaged People”. Today the Mukhtar Memorial Society is supporting 60 such families by the grace of Allah. This was also the time that I got great support from my family as well because I had performed exceedingly well in my 12th class board exams.
Slowly but surely the organization has placed its feet firmly on the ground and was able to conduct many programs of social relevance on its own and some more in collaboration with other agencies.
Since a decade now we are running this NGO and have benefited common masses with many of our welfare schemes and programs like Financial Assistance, Marriage Assistance, Interest Free Loans, Employment Generation, and so on.
What work has Mukhtar Memorial Society done ?
Since 2007 the Society is running the Financial Assistance Scheme to help destitute families live a comfortable and peaceful life. The families who are supported belong to different areas of the Kashmir valley like the frontier district of Kupwara, Srinagar, Baramulla, Pulwama, Bandipore.
The Society has organized hundreds of awareness programs, seminars and workshops directed to sensitize the community on various issues like Cancer, AIDS, Drug Addiction, Dowry, Female Feoticide and Violence against women
We have organized Free First Aid Camps, Medicine Distribution Camps & Free Medical Consultation Camps. We even donate medicines to Government run hospitals, dispensaries and health centers.
Then in the year 2014 we launched a massive Rescue, Relief & Rehabilitation Program for the flood victims of the valley and our efforts were highly appreciated by one and all. We distributed relief among victims worth little less than a crore.
By the Grace of Almighty Mukhtar Memorial Society is operating successfully and generating benefits for those in need. We have helped a commendable number of people in distress with our schemes like Marriage Assistance Scheme, Homes for Homeless, Employment Generation, Interest Free Loans etc.
What has MMS done to enlighten various social issues in Kashmir?
Until and unless a social evil is completely eradicated from a society nothing is done. We have been trying our best spread awareness about the various social menaces our state is suffering from, their root causes and how we can collectively address such issues. We organize programs at grass root level like schools, colleges, universities as well as Islamic madaris. We not only organize programs in Srinagar but we have been trying to aware people across Kashmirs remotest places. Drug Addiction, Female Foeticide, Child Labour, Violence Against Women, Child Labour, Human Right Violations etc are the issues which we have tried to address so far
MMS also played a role in 2014 Kashmir flood, tell us about that?
It wasn’t a role it was our duty and we are here for the same. Well to be precise we were firstly engaged in the rescue operations, our own office and equipment was not accessible so I turned my home into a sort of base camp from where every morning we all would meet distribute into groups and start our day. Later came the relief part we approximately distributed essentials among the flood victims worth little less than a crore and I feel that those were the most hectic and memorable days of my career as a social activist. Finally, we had a brief rehabilitation part which we could offer to limited house holds due to lack of funds.
Tell us about Drug De Addiction & Female Foeticide Awareness programs you did?
Both drug Addiction and female foeticide are very serious problems our state is going through. I mean I have seen and counseled addicts as young as 10 years and surprisingly both the genders. Again female foeticide is a brutal malpractice which has badly affected our state.
We basically have developed a fulltime strategy to tackle such issues. To be brief it was a kind of deterrent strategy where we used to go to schools & coaching centers with some officials of district administration and police for surprise checks of students. We hold counseling sessions with them, helped them to know what exactly addiction is and how lethal it can be.
Same we used to do it scanning centers which are the prime source of female foeticide. We even got many licenses canceled by the concerned authorities of such scanning centers. We have been counseling many expecting parents in this regard and that has been also really fruitful.
What plans do you have for the future?
As I said doing humanitarian work has become my passion a necessity to be more appropriate. So I am planning to open a charitable school and a charitable maternity hospital. By charitable I mean charitable where you have high class facilities at rates matching the government counterparts. I know it is a huge project and requires lot of inputs. I don’t know how but I am going to do it.
What would be your advice to the youth today?
I need advice rather than giving. Advice about how we can collectively make our valley a blissful place again.
But yes I would like that our youth should be good human beings and shun all such activities which firstly affect them and then our society. Kashmiri youth have huge potential they just need grooming and someone to show them direction. We all collectively need to pledge to help anyone who is in distress by any means.
In what ways can our readers contribute to Mukhtar Memorial Society?
They say even a single penny counts. We accept cash, kind, anything. One can even contribute by spending your precious time with us in our various social welfare programs.
Even our artists of different fields can contribute by means of their art cause I personally feel that any field of art can do wonders.