I’m always on the lookout for people or causes I can give to where my monetary contributions, as small as they may be, can make a tangible difference.
Of course there are loads of charities which do amazing work. I never cease to be impressed by the efficiency with which Saylani Welfare Trust dispenses a wide range of services to the deserving with dignity. Also how they follow up even small donations (anything over Rs. 20,000) with a meticulous record of where your contributions were spent and details of exact recipients in your post a few days later. Their thorough process of vetting recipients gives me the peace of mind that my money is indeed reaching the right people.
Then there are other organizations like Edhi, Chhipa and Indus Hospital which are also quite brilliant, really well organised and always in need of funds.
Because these organizations are so well trusted they attract a lot of donations. Never nearly enough, I know, but they have a lot of donors. So every month when we are deciding who to give our monthly donations to, I find myself wondering if there are other people out there who could really do with the money and who aren’t being served by these large organizations.
It’s only through word of mouth that I come across someone needing money for things such as setting up a small business to become self sufficient, a community well that needs to be dug or someone in need of a wheelchair or emergency medical expenses. And that too, not very often.
I admit I’m lazy that way, waiting to be told about someone in need or simply handing my money over to someone doing amazing work and being done with my obligation, instead of making an effort to get actively involved.
And I’m not too keen on forking out money to someone who’s pretends to double over from weakness and hunger at my car window one minute, and then merrily trots past quite alright the very next. Or the chap who, on the pretext of “raising community awareness” fools me into letting him inside the building and then lands at my doorstep demanding my bank details for setting up weekly donations for “disabled children” (a baby in hand, I’m but obviously the perfect target).
For all those reasons, it usually hard to find the right recipients.
So when I read this article in the Tribune the other day about the amazing work being done by an extraordinary person Neha Mankani at the Lady Dufferin Hospital in Karachi, my heart broke. And I felt immensely grateful to the person I had just read about who is helping out mums facing desperate and terrible circumstances.
Read the article about Neha and the Mama Baby fund here.
I guess some causes speak more to me than others, and this was one of them. Because I’m not just a mum, I’m also a bereaved mum. While I hold one baby in my arms, I think about the other one I didn’t get to hold even briefly.
I lost my first baby due to medical negligence. God’s will supersedes all that of course. But it’s been two years now and I’m still haunted by the humiliation I felt at the hands of midwives and doctors during my two days in the hospital. It seemed like I was someone who doctors and nurses, whose very job it was to help me, wanted to avoid in case my terrible luck was contagious. Everyone I came across save for one nurse was unkind. During the worst moments of my life, they were rude and impatient with me and used some nasty words. Putting it lightly, the staff at Hameed Latif Hospital, Lahore were pretty despicable.
Maybe those women deliberately put on that hardened front to protect themselves. I’m really giving them the benefit of doubt here but who knows.
When I read about Neha and her Mama Baby Fund at Lady Dufferin, I was really touched. And deeply saddened. Just reading or hearing about someone who’s gone through what I did is really hard. But it’s even more heartbreaking to hear about someone who, after the ordeal, doesn’t have the money to bury their child. About parents who don’t have money for treatment of really sick babies or sick mums.
Neha comes across as someone with a lot of compassion in the Tribune profile, a really kind person. This seems to be a rare quality in the medical profession these days. Someone who can feel the pain of a woman delivering a dead baby when most would rather pretend it didn’t happen, and someone who’s making a huge difference in people’s life just by caring enough.
Later when I sat there tweeting about my new breakfast cereal having far too many chocolate chips, I felt really small. I’ve spent the last year being extremely grateful for God’s kindness and blessings, well aware that I’ve been very, very lucky.
But reading those accounts of mothers in desperate situations, the very randomness of good fortune struck anew.
The next time around, we had made sure I got the best possible care available in Pakistan. But it could easily have been very different. I could be one of those mothers to whom a little assistance would actually mean the difference between life and death.
I did something I never do because it’s just creepy behaviour – I looked Neha up and messaged her on Facebook.
I’ve been to Lady Dufferin in my search for the best doctors and from all that I hear, it’s a really great place, and a lifeline for women in need of good care but short on funds.
The Mama Baby fund has a constant need for funds according to Neha, which I can well imagine, going by what I had observed there. The husband and I intend to contribute regularly to it, but our meagre contributions can in no way amount to much, given just how many women are in desperate need for essential care for themselves and their babies.
These mums and babies need all the help they can get. It is a matter of life and death for them. Quite literally.