Pakistan Bait-ul-Mal (PBM) is working laboriously for poverty alleviation in the country. The dynamic organisation is working under the visionary leadership of Zamurrud Khan who is an honorary Managing Director. Focusing on the destitute people of Pakistan especially widows, orphans and the needy,PBM has initiated various projects all over the country. Pakistan Sweet Homes (PSHs) are one of the many projects initiated by the organisation, which focus on providing accommodation, food, medical care, education and other necessary facilities to orphaned children in order to make them in to responsible citizens of Pakistan. Until now the team has established 30 orphanages called Pakistan Sweet Homes across the country where 3000 orphan children have been living and getting all among the above mentioned facilities. The number of these sweet homes is growing as there are thousands of orphaned children in the country who are awaiting assistance.

Under this project the enrolled children live in furnished homes with proper bedrooms, play area and a TV lounge. Theyreceive free education at the best schools of the city up to metric level. They get free books, stationary and uniforms for summer and winter. Every home has two teachers who give them extra coaching classes and help them in doing their homework. The children also get a chance to groom themselves and participate in the extracurricular activities at workshopsarranged in collaboration with different NGOs. Meanwhile, PBMis in the process of equipping each home with computer labs to make the children more tech-friendly.

In addition the kids are provided with a balanced diet through weekly menu (breakfast/lunch/dinner) designed to fulfill their nutritious needs. Children living in these homes are given medical facilities through government hospitals.

To manage all the affairs of a home there is one in-charge whose duty is to ensure proper care and management. He is also responsible to keep full record of the children such as pre-admission, listing details of origin and background. Besides this, every home has proper staff to ensure a family like atmosphere.

In each home 100 children are enrolled and for every 14 children there is a female caretaker who looks after the children and helps them in every mannerlike getting them ready for school, looking after their meals and all other affairs.Similarly, there is kitchen staffto ensure every meal served on time. Then there are cleaning and laundry staffs who work in their respective domains. Above all one female nurse is always there to cope with emergency situations.

Most of the children housed in these homes have been the victims of different catastrophes and tragedies in Pakistan. For example, there are children whoseparents were killed in terror attacks in Waziristan and Swat. These children are residing in Islamabad Sihala, Pak town- Rawalpindi and Bara Kahu Islamabad. The victims of Derabugti turmoil are living in Quetta and Zohb. Similarly, Larkana, Benazirabad, MirpurKhas, Sukkur and Karachi centres are taking care of children from flood affected areas. Similarly, Sweet Homes have accommodated earth quake victimsin Azad Jammu & Kashmir. Pakistan Sweet Homes is also trying to save the children belonging to rural areas of Multan, Gujranwla, Lahore, Sialkot andGujrat who have been orphaned or were indulged in child labour.

Any poor child aged between 4 to 6 whose father has passed away can apply for enrolment at Pakistan Sweet Homes. One child from each family is taken because the organisation aims to benefit maximum number of families with an ultimate goal to shore up one person from a family who can become anearning hand to the other members. Two or more children from the same family are considered in case of double parental loss.

Sweet Home in Lahore is situated in Canal View Society. Its rooms are spacious and airy.There are 98 children aged 4 to 6 residing in that home. When inquired about the area from which they belong, the Director Pakistan Bait-ul-Maal, Col (Retd) Syed Ahmad NadeemQadri who is also the incharge of this home said, “They all belong to the cityand its outskirts areas. They are all orphans by father and a few of them have double parental loss.”When talked to the children, they said that they were happier at Sweet Homes than they were at their own houses. The home is furnished but still requires some improvements. District officer, Hafiz Usman said that the seven bedrooms had only fans which did not fulfil the requirement in dire hot summer season. “Fans are not enough and we are waiting for somesponsor who gives us at least room coolers.”

Recently,Susan Heyward, wife of Australian High Commissioner in PakistanPeter Heyward, visited the Pakistan Sweet Home in Lahore. She was accompanied by Goodwill Ambassador for Orphan Children JahanAraWattoo and All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) Punjab President's wife Anika Bashir.Susan Heyward appreciated the project and said, “It is a unique initiativeaiming at providing grooming opportunities to the marginalised and orphan children of the society. I am pleased to know about the system to look after these children implemented in these homes. It is really a wonderful project.”Anika Bashir who often supervises the home said that she was trying to manage an air conditioned computer lab for which she was hopeful to be established soon. She also remains in contact with teachers of the home.

When inquired from JahanAraWattoo about the sustainability of this programme she replied it was hard to sustain the project for a longer period without active participation and contribution of private sector, civil society and NGOs. “According to an estimate there are 4 million destitute children in Pakistan and we have housed only 3000 up till now.Although, the number of these housed children is very limited but the initiative has been taken. It is to make clear that due to scarcity of funds Pakistan Bait-ul-Mal alone cannot carry out this gigantic task so we need more sponsors.

“What I can assure is that the project is endowed with a safe, secure and bright future to these poor little souls of the nation. Therefore maximum contribution is requested to lock the future of the Pakistan with peace, prosperity and success,” She explained.

Mentioning about contributors she said, “There are many volunteers who have come forward in this project and helpus out. Some are helping with their resources, some just giving time and visiting Sweet Homes, checking how the kids are looked after. In Lahore, I must say AnikaAhsan Bashir has contributed a lot. Similarly, Chairman of Sundas Foundation, Mr Yaseen has a great contribution in mobilising people. Besides, there are many sponsors who want to remain anonymous and some are known like LatifBanasmati Ghee Mills. (Ltd.), Suriya Sultan Foundation, COMSATS etc.”

Mentioning about the volunteers she requested especially from computer teachers and students from NCAand other art colleges to join them to teach art and music to these most vulnerable children.

For future, PSHs management is planning to expand this project to district level on availability of resources. Likewise, Sweet Homes for orphan girls are also in the pipeline in which almost 15,000 girls would be enrolled.The formulation of a body comprising of donors, donor agencies and PBM will be made to keep a check and balance on the centres for the transparent utilisation of allocated funds.

This is a unique project in the history of Pakistan. Thislittlestep of Pakistan Bait-ul-Malwill prove a gigantic step in the time to come. As affirmed by JahanAraWattoo the project is purely for humanitarian cause and is free from any politics. Any political party who will set up the next government should carry on such projects for the betterment and the prosperity of people of Pakistan. Such projects should be encouraged. All those people who are blessed with enough resources should contribute maximum for these little angels in these houses.