Story of KORT
It was the holy month of Ramadan and everyday routines were temporarily put on hold for the annual fasts; shops opened their doors later than usual, as children studied and played while counting down the days to the beginning of Eid. It was the day that hundreds of villages and tens of thousands of lives were unexpectedly cut short.
Official figures from Pakistan show that 87,350 people lost their lives that weekend including 19,000 children crushed under school buildings that caved in on them while they sat in class. At least 38,000 people sustained injuries as they rested in their beds following the pre-dawn Ramadan breakfast, and almost 3.5 million people fled their homes to seek refuge from the aftershocks.
Human cost aside, the economic devastation that visited Kashmir that morning was a massive setback for the region. Pictures of the disaster were circulated around the globe within a few hours and thousands of people responded with the same compassion they had shown to the Boxing Day tsunami victims in Indonesia just 11 months earlier.
A group of friends including Ch. Mohammed Akhtar from UK were amongst the international TV viewing audience who felt compelled to act. Thanks to the generosity of their families, friends and local communities, they raised over £100,000 in just five days to provide tents, blankets, food and medicine for the worst hit areas.
Whilst they were at the scenes of devastation, they came across a group of children heading down a mountain with fear and anxiety on their faces; they had filthy clothes, no footwear and were hungry for food.
The children were asked about their situation and they said they were orphans from the mountain villages who witnessed their families being killed and had their homes destroyed by the earthquake. They were told by surviving village elders to go to the main cities and seek help as there was no future for them in the villages anymore.
It was this experience that led Ch. Mohammed Akhtar and his friends to start KORT (Kashmir Orphan Relief Trust) to offer long term support for orphans.
We believe that it is the right of children to be protected, taken care of physically, psychologically, emotionally and these rights don’t change when children become orphans.