What is Kashmir Family Aid?
Kashmir Family Aid is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit based in Bend, Oregon.
Our primary goal is to counter poverty in Pakistan and Azad Kashmir by providing secular education to quake-affected children. The Oct. 8, 2005 earthquake killed at least 73,000, left 3 million homeless and destroyed 8,000 of the region’s 11,000 primary and secondary schools, according to CNN and Newsday reports.
How can I be sure the money I donate goes into the right hands?
We have bullet-proof methodologies for making sure the money you donate is spent exactly how we promised. Sam Carpenter and/or Christopher Stollar will personally travel to Pakistan to make sure your money goes directly to the schools and that the project is completed properly. Sam has been to Pakistan six times now, and has trusted contacts there.
In addition, we always allow donors to follow their money and see how it is spent. We will open books to anyone that asks and post photos of people receiving funds on our Web site. We will even take interested donors to Pakistan and Kashmir to meet the children and teachers—and see the schools for themselves.
We focus on Pakistan because it remains an impoverished country, and the 2005 earthquake’s toll continues to haunt the region. But also, it is important to offer the children of this region the opportunity to attend secular schools in which they will receive a well-rounded curriculum. The goal is to empower children who have little or no hope of making a contribution to their own society, while advancing themselves personally.
As of 2007, fewer than 400 of the 8,000 destroyed schools had been rebuilt, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle estimated. That means about 13 million children – out of some 27 million total – are still not enrolled in any school. More than 70 percent of females in Pakistan can’t read.
How many schools does KFA support?
Since our inception in 2005, we have partially supported six private schools and about 1,200 students.
We are currently raising money for a dozen major projects in which we are seeking donors: In Patika, Azad Kashmir, constructing a building for orphans who currently study in tents because the 2005 earthquake destroyed their former building as it crushed dozens of students. Teachers there make less than $60 a month and have not been paid for eight months. During our May 2008 visit, we covered back wages.
Other projects include paying teachers, building bathrooms (in one school, there are 400 students using a single toilet), adding classrooms to a primary school and buying computers. We are looking for people to support them.
How many women and families does KFA aid?
Since 2005, we have given money to more than 50 widows and destitute women. We also covered two months of unpaid back payroll for 25 teachers in two financially-strapped private schools.
What is KFA’s view on Islam and the War on Terror?
We have none. Kashmir Family Aid simply believes in helping people through both education and general aid. We do not promote Islam, Christianity or any other religion, and we are not connected to any other cause.
Is KFA tied to any religious or political organization?
Why should I care about the 2005 Pakistani earthquake when there are more current disasters that happened in places like China and Myanmar?
Kashmir Family Aid continues to focus on Pakistan for two main reasons.
First, the earthquake’s effects still weigh heavily in the region. For example, at the Patika Model School in Kashmir, about 250 children have been studying in decaying tents for the last three years because the 2005 earthquake destroyed their former building. When it rains, the students get soaked. In summer, they suffer from heat spells.
Hundreds of students still live like this.
Second, Pakistan and Kashmir remain a hotbed for Islamic fundamentalist Madrassa schools.
This is not like Latin America or some other Western-influenced, Christian country – some Madrassa schools teach militant jihad to young children who will ultimately take paid jobs as jihadists once they become teenagers. This is attractive to many of these impoverished children who lack skills: Jobs are scarce and jihadist “jobs” pay four to six times as much as what can be earned in manual labor. Not many westerners understand that jihadists are literally holding highly paid jobs. We at Kashmir Family Aid tackle these problems by promoting math, science, history and English in private schools as an alternative to the Madrassas.
How can I help?
There are three ways you can get involved.
First, you can pay for a child’s education. For just $5 a month – a little more than the cost of a latte – you can support one student. Less than $1,000 a month funds an entire school of 200 students with a faculty of 12.
Second, you can make a one-time contribution to help us support new schools or aid destitute women and families. Even a small donation goes a long way.
Third, you can travel to Pakistan with us. Founder Sam Carpenter and Director Christopher Stollar plan to make regular trips to Pakistan and accompany business leaders, community members and residents who are serious about the cause. We will organize work parties on a semi-regular basis.
We are looking for corporate sponsors and individuals to sustain several projects in Azad Jammu Kashmir and in Pakistan, ranging from building a school in the tiny, high elevation and very remote village of Serli Sacha, to assisting The Sewara Foundation that has schools in Muzaffarabad and elsewhere in Azad Kashmir and the Gilgit-Baltistan region ("Northern Areas") of Pakistan. We are also coordinating aid through IBTIDA foundation. For more information, contact me :