The idea of Sweet Homes is good but it is not a permanent solution. This was said by Parliamentary Secretary on Human Rights Rubina Qaimkhani on Wednesday.
Qaimkhani, who is also chairperson of the newly constituted parliamentary forum on child rights, spent a day with orphans in Bhara Kahu Sweet Home.
She said that the idea was to make a temporary arrangement to look after orphans. “I hope the government, instead of opening more Sweet Homes, provides financial support to these children,” said Rubina, adding that “the best institution for child-rearing is a mother”.
She explained that the mother of a child who has lost his father, and primary source of income, should be paid a stipend from the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) with a string attached that she will send her kids to school. “After the father dies it is usually hard for the mother, who is often not working to begin with, to take care of all the children.”
On the same note, she termed the establishment of the parliamentarians’ forum on child rights a “great achievement” of the present government.
The purposes of the parliamentarians forum is to ensure parliament’s role in effectively legislating and monitoring public sector institutions working for the provision of education, healthcare, food, protection and a safe environment for children. The forum complements efforts to promote and protect child rights, she said.
Later the children were given gifts for Eid.
There are four Sweet Homes in Islamabad, where orphans from around the country are housed. With support from Baitul Maal, each Sweet Home can host around 100 children. They are provided education, food, shelter and healthcare, and a single female staffer is responsible for looking after 20 children.
Most of the children at the Sweet Homes are from Dera Bugti in Balochistan, Multan and other cities in southern Punjab, and Kurram Agency, Parachinar, Abottabad, and South and North Waziristan agencies.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 16th, 2012.