Family and friends gave generously in memory of Andy and the suggestion was made that a charity should be set up in his name. That charity has now been registered as Registered Charity Number 1098651 with the UK Charity Commission and is known as ALF, Andy Lanes Foundation for Pakistani children in need.
The obvious place to start the work of ALF in Pakistan was Dar-ul-Sukun, a home for mentally and physically handicapped children in Karachi. During the four years we lived in Karachi I had become a regular visitor to Dar-ul-Sukun and had come to know and love the children there. Andy and members of his 3M staff and other friends helped me in my efforts to improve the lives of the children.
The children are fortunate to be alive but much can be done to improve the quality of their lives. Dar-ul-Sukun needs people with the time and the skills to improve the quality of their lives in every area –medical, therapeutic, hygiene, diet, education and social interaction (talking and cuddling!). ALF wanted to raise money to provide these experts.
For 12 months ALF did provide a paediatric doctor but, after 18 months of painstaking discussion, explanation and persuasion, it was made obvious that the administrators of DUS were unprepared to accept any further input of trained help. They would accept “material things” but no more. As ALF had promised donors that their money would make a real difference to the lives of disadvantaged children the time had come to look elsewhere for a worthwhile cause.
We did not have to look too far! Many of our friends had contributed to the medical expenses for operations to enable a little boy called Mohsin to walk. Mohsin was born with dislocated hips and club feet. He is perfectly normal mentally (in fact as bright as a button) but was living at Dar-ul-Sukun because of his handicap. The operations enabled him to walk though he is still lame. In my efforts to find him a suitable home, one where he could achieve his potential, I discovered the Karachi SOS Village.
The SOS Village is a haven of peace and tranquility and fun and laughter for 160 orphans. The children live in cottages in the village compound. Each cottage has approximately 10 children and one “Mama” who cares for them. Most of the children have never slept in beds before or had access to clean running water, taps and toilets, much less regular cooked meals. Here they each have their own bed and cupboard, 5 boys in one room with bathroom and 5 girls in another. Every day they go to the SOS School which is built adjacent to the Village. The school is so well run that families from the local community also send their children there. After school the children go home to “Mama’s” home cooking. Extra tuition is provided for any child who needs it and the children are taken up to matriculation. They are encouraged to go as far with their education as their abilities allow. The children have a home at the Village until they are able to stand on their own feet and support themselves; just as we do with our own children. Within the safety of the Village walls the children can learn and play, whether it be English, Maths, cricket, football, scouting, sewing, computers or the Koran.
It is into this caring environment of new brothers and sisters and a “Mama” that Mohsin has been accepted. At the end of his first year he was 4th in his class and happy and contented in the stimulating, challenging and safe home provided by the SOS Village.
ALF had found its worthwhile cause but how could it help? The SOS Village needed a medical facility where the health of its children could be monitored on a daily basis. ALF has funded the construction and furnishing of the SOS Clinic, which opened on 1st April 2005. A doctor and nurse have been appointed and the Clinic runs 6 days a week from 9.00am until 2.00pm. The Clinic will provide health care not only for the SOS children but also for the women and children of the surrounding neighborhood of Malir, which is an area of deprivation and poverty. Local people come not only for diagnosis but also desperately hoping for free medicine. Local pharmaceutical firms will be approached to donate some medicines but others will have to be purchased. A contingency fund has been set up for the purchase of vaccinations. It is hoped that soon a dentist will be available to provide regular dental check-ups and treatment.
The Andy Lanes Foundation wants to ensure that the SOS children
have the health care to enable them to make the most of the loving
home and education provided by the Karachi SOS Village. Will you