It is with immense pride and a sense of humility that I welcome you all to the launch of Hashoo Foundation in the United Kingdom. I would like to begin by expressing our deepest gratitude to His Excellency Sir Mark Lyall Grant, for taking time out from his busy schedule and flying across the Atlantic just to be with us today. Sir Mark, thank you and we are delighted that Lady Sheila is also able to join us.
To launch the Hashoo Foundation in the UK in the presence of prominent individuals as yourselves, from both London and beyond is truly a momentous occasion for all of us at Hashoo Foundation, no more so than for my pillar – my father Sadruddin Hashwani who I am very grateful to for bestowing on me the responsibility to lead the Foundation. It not only represents a key achievement for the Foundation but also a milestone in the pursuit of our vision to being a global supporter and contributor to the development of sustainable communities throughout the world.
We are here today to talk about uncounted desperate families; millions of families so cut off from civilisation that they don’t even know that a day like this exists on their behalf. Millions! Numbers can eliminate, but they can also obscure. So I am here today to say that these desperate families are not just numbers – they are mothers and daughters and fathers and sons, and nowadays they are also teachers, doctors, engineers. They are all individuals, but most importantly they are survivors – each one with a remarkable story that tells of resilience in the face of great loss. They are among the most impressive people that I have ever met.
I have had the opportunity of seeing and being part of some of the most incredible interactions with people who are not only poor but have never been allowed to aspire or dream. Having been born into a business family and being raised in a sheltered environment I never really understood the meaning of struggle! It is so inspirational to see how much courage and will power these people have to try and make something out of life. All they need is a stepping stone and a mentor. Most of the successful people around the world started from humble beginnings proving that having the opportunity is the first step.
11 years ago, I started working with our family’s foundations. Whilst I was living in the US during my college years, I set up the initial Foundation offices in the US and the UK. During this period, the family ran a number of Charities, among which were Hoap Foundation and Hashoo Foundation. When I returned to Pakistan and assumed responsibility of the Family’s charities, it became evident that our aspirations would be better served if the two organization were to become one with a clear direction that promoted empowerment of communities to become more economically self reliant.
So in 2007, the boards of both organizations went through a formal merger to become the Foundation we have today. The purpose of the merger was to try and build a vehicle through which we can connect donors (both institutional donors and private ones) and beneficiary. The aspiration was also to determine how we, as a family, can leverage our networks and resources for good purpose. We all in this room have access to a lot if we compare ourselves to farmer living in an isolated village. The real challenge is knowing how we can translate this access into the strategy of the Foundation and better serve the beneficiary.
Since the merger, the Foundation had to define its focus areas very clearly, to make sure that we come out with high impact, keeping in mind Pakistan’s needs whilst maintaining the Foundation’s sustainability. The Foundation therefore developed a niche for itself in the field of economic development through the provision social enterprise, appropriate skills training, job creation and market linkages. Through our economic development programs, we aim to increase incomes at the household level to enable beneficiaries to allocate income towards education, health, housing and better nutrition. Without a roof over their heads, food in their bellies and clothes on their backs, other issues, like education and access to health care seems like a distant dream. Today, we have operational presence in all five provinces of Pakistan and work with both Pakistani and Afghan communities. Whilst the Hashoo Foundation is supported by the family and private donors, it also extensively works with a broad range of donor agencies such as: Qatar Foundation, Church World Services, State US Department and MEDA.
The Foundation now stands primed and well positioned in terms of its capacity, outreach, networking and a proven track record of community focused interventions to present as credentials to this illustrious gathering.
What made us decide to launch in the UK now? The decision definitely wasn’t made on the spur of the moment; in fact, it is a result of a long and thorough process. We have been mindful of its implications for our brand and its credibility, the access to and use of resources both financial and human, the comfort level and trust of our friends and supporters, but most of all for our end partner beneficiaries in and outside of UK whose hopes and expectations will now be raised as a consequence.
Hence, we have initially decided to concentrate on:
1. Networking and forging mutually beneficial linkages with like-minded UK and EU-based NGOs and INGOs, educational institutions, social experts and commentators and development related policy makers.
2. Human dignity, self respect, economic self-reliance, social justice and equal access to opportunity are some of the most critical components of a “developed society”. In all of this, the youth play a pivotal role. Hence we will concentrate our in-country efforts on issues related to improving social inclusion. To this end, we have already entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with one of the Princes Charities, Mosaic. I believe its National Director, Mr. Jonathan Freeman is here with us today. Jonathan, you and your team provide a truly remarkable service and we at the Foundation are so pleased to be a part of what you do.
3. The British people are well known for their kind hearted generosity and even in such economically trying times, both the British people and the British government remain steadfast in their commitment of supporting the underprivileged without preference or discrimination. It is a wonderful trait which any nation and society can be proud of. We at the Foundation will look to explore who we can tap into this unfathomable reservoir of good will and generosity in line with our mission and their personal area of interest.
At the end I would like to close by saying that Life is beautiful. God presents us with the gift of life, not with suffering from what we can have as our right. Economic empowerment protection is a hot issue in developing countries. On paper, people are protected and have primary care. In reality, the situation is quite different.
Through Our mutual efforts we will continue to strive to fulfill our duty of cherishing every human life. Let’s go on building the bonds of friendship and goodness through cooperation and mutual respect. Join us in our Journey as sponsors, supporters or just simply friends of Hashoo Foundation.
Finally, before we move on to a short film on what the Foundation is all about, I want to take a minute and express, on behalf of our Patron in Chief, my father Mr. Sadruddin Hashwani, my brothers and sisters, Foundation’s UK, USA and Pakistani Board members and staff – our heartfelt gratitude to each and every one of you for your invaluable presence. May I just add that we are pleased to have with us two partner beneficiaries all the way from Gilgit and Chitral to share their experiences with you. There are also a number of staff and board members who are present. Do feel free to learn more about the Foundation from them, I am sure they will be more than pleased to assist. Thank you and please enjoy the rest of the evening.