Charitable Societies: Profit or Non-Profit associations? [Archives:2000/49/Culture]

December 4 2000

Farouq Kamali
Yemen Times,
If you want to be famous in Yemen, you must establish a political party and if you want to be rich, you must establish a society. Societies have become an eye-attracting phenomenon recently. Every day we hear of a society inaugurated. Hundreds of societies without any clear objectives or organized work have appeared. Their work does not exceed distributing small amounts of money to their members who are chosen because of being close relatives or favored.
These societies possess large amount of money half of which is spent on propaganda and on encouraging the rich people in helping the poor people. However, these societies are far away from the real poor people and have not succeeded in eliminating poverty or unemployment in the country.
To throw some light on such societies, YT interviewed a few personalities concerned and came out with the following facts;
Taiba Charitable Foundation
It is a Yemeni charitable foundation established in Al-Mukalla- Hadhramaut. It works in many fields like education and health. It had established many charitable university hostels for students in many governorates. It has also organized four camps for free surgeries for patients in Mukalla, Sayuon, and Taiz. Doctors from USA were invited to Yemen, for this purpose.
Al-Wahda Charitable Society
Al-Wahda Charitable Society was established in 95 in Taiz. Mr. Hadi Saeed Abdu, Chairman of the Society, said, “The Society carried out many projects among which are maintaining 534 orphans during the last years,out of which 23 families were maintained permanently. Foodstuffs were distributed among 4000 families and school satchel were distributed among 22000 students, Eid clothes were distributed among 35000 families, 1500 women were rehabilitated in the field of productive families rehabilitation, 3500 women were rehabilitated in the field of womens activities.” He added, “We made summer camps for 4650 students. Three thousand two hundred and forty-six people and 1400 families benefited from the centers of breaking the fast, 450 students were given assistance for their studies, Zakah was distributed among 5300 families, 1000 surgeries were carried out for in cooperation with Taiba Charitable Foundation and the World Symposium for Islamic Youth.
Dr. Habib Bagash Al-Asbahi, Chairman of Al-Wahda Charitable Society, said, “Social solidarity is an Islamic principle and adopted policy of those societies. It ensures that this principle is consolidated; Besides, interrelationship between the rich and the poor is continued. They help in compiling statistics about the poor and needy people, widows and orphans.”Jamil Al-Anesi, Chairman of the Islah Social Charitable Society, said, “The objective of these charitable societies is to mobilize the potentials of society to participate in the development process and fighting poverty through work on two parallel concepts. The first is the relief concept; distributing foodstuff among the need;. Second is the sustainable social development concept carrying out a series of projects in first aid, psychological and health care, in cultural and educational sections such as programs of eliminating illiteracy, educating all classes of the society, developing and financing small productive projects in coordination with authorities donating and supporting such programs. There are also environmental projects like water and sewage projects, preserving and developing agriculture and animal wealth projects in the country.” He added.
Al-Wahda Charitable Society in Taiz supports students. The society also has other objectives like helping the orphans, elderly and the disabled. It also rehabilitates women socially and culturally. It also establishes charitable foundations.
The Islah Charitable Society
Mr. Al-Anesi said that the Society is adopting many projects and programs in the health field. It implemented a program for health centers in the Country. The number of beneficiaries of this program was approximately 112449 patients by the end of 99. Furthermore, it carried out the program of mobilizing 95 medical caravans to many infected areas 210604 people benefited from this program until 99. The program of health and psychological care had also been carried out by the Society and about 46260 people have benefited. In addition, the Society has established and operated some clinics and hospitals like Saleh Ba Bakr Hospital in Hadramaut, Al-Dhuha Hospital in Hodeida, the Womens Mental Hospital in Sana’a, Ibn Sina Hospital in Al-Raheda, Al-Khansa Hospital in Ibb and Jibla Hospital in Jibla. The beneficiaries of those projects are 140,000 patients until 99. In the development and social sectors, the Society has participated in distributing foodstuffs among more than 6,524,000 poor people and has maintained 12,000 orphans until 99. Distribution of projects depends on census and field surveys to know the needed services and earmark projects accordingly.
The Al-Aqsa Islamic Society
The Islamic Society for Supporting Al-Aqsa was established for supporting Al-Aqsa, the Palestinian cause, collecting and providing money for Mujahideen and establishing charitable projects.
The main objective behind establishing the Solidarity and Social Care Society was to stop spread of the begging phenomenon and to acquaint the people with the bad effects of begging. The society also trains and rehabilitates those beggars who can work to help themselves. Providing free essential medical care for the poor people is also one of this society’s objectives.
Most of the means of the Society penpoints propaganda. It depends on producing written, and audio-visual material to spread information about the Palestinian cause. The Society also collects donations and gifts and delivers them to deserving organizations in cooperation with similar societies and organizations. Those propaganda materials cost large amounts of money that could have been made use of in a better way. In 97 for example the cost of propaganda materials reached 1,557,181 rials, while, money transfers supporting charitable projects of the Society for the same year reached 9,264,000 rials.
Charitable Society for Social Solidarity and Social Care
The Society carried out many projects since it was established. About 2337 cases came to the reception and follow-up department and were relegated to the Social Survey Department. One thousand and forty-three cases benefited from its programs. The number of beneficiaries is increasing steadily. Job opportunities were created for 11 people. In addition, 74 people were rehabilitated in handicrafts, sculpture, and engraving. In the fields of handicraft and tailoring, 446 students were rehabilitated. The average output of women in tailoring workshops is 12 pieces per woman and in the costumes workshops is 2 pieces per woman.
Hael Saeed Charitable Society
It was established in 1971 to achieve charitable works depending on the sublime values of Islam that urge Muslims to do people good. It was established after the Late Hael Saeed Anam who felt the importance of such a society to ensure continuity of charitable works. Its objectives are to build mosques, public schools, religious institutes, schools for teaching Quran and encouraging the youth to learn Quran by giving them prizes, money and by holding contests between Quran learners. The Society has built many mosques, schools, Quran schools and institutes in different cities and villages.
Charitable Society for Social Solidarity for Security Men
In Taiz, the Charitable Society for Social Solidarity is a society confined to police and security men. Its objective is to strengthen cooperation and social solidarity among police and security men in the governorate and to solve their financial problems.
Mr. Sultan Al-Alimi, Chairman of the Charitable Society of Social Solidarity for Security Men in Taiz, said, “The financial returns of the Society reached 6643480 rials since it was established until the beginning of 2000. On the other hand, the cases taken up were 905 since 97. The financial resources consist of members’ obligatory subscriptions, the financial support offered by Ministry of Interior, Taiz Governorate, other donations and unconditioned gifts.”Mr. Farhan Abdullah Ahmed Al-Qusaili, General Manager of Administration of Societies and Unions in the Ministry of Insurance and Social Affairs, responded, “By 1999, the number of private organizations was 2388. To give a society a permit, there are legal procedures starting with members of the preparatory committee of the society filling an application form with which a draft of the society’s charter and a list of the board of trustees of the society must be enclosed. Following are the legal procedures.
1) We receive the application form, a draft of the society’s charter and a list of the board of trustees (founders of the society, not less than 21 members) enclosed. By the way, the Administration is issuing a periodical leaflet that is concerned with matters relating to private organizations.
2) The Ministry or one of its branches in the governorates revises and modifies the charter, if needed, according to the law.
3) We announce the date, time and place of election assembly through the media. Membership to the organization is open to interested people.
4) A representative of the ministry or one of its branches in the governorate attends the elections on the day they are assembled. He supervises the elections and ensures they are carried out legally and in a democratic way.
5) After the election assembly, in which the draft charter is approved by the general assembly of the society and after electing leaders for the organization, the ministry takes many legal measures aiming at popularizing the organization through the media and we grant the organization a permit to peruse work and to deal with some authorities like the bank and publication houses to facilitate registering of the organization officially.
Evaluation of Charitable Societies in Yemen
The charitable work is still not clear in this poor and illiterate society. The role of societies is only confined to distributing satchels among orphans, food among fasting people and small services in health and rehabilitating the poor. Yet, some of these societies ask people to collect donations for Afghanistan, Chechnya, Africa and Kosova while there are people in Sada, Mahara, Hodeida and Taiz who are poorer and need these amounts of money. So far, there has been no real projects from which the people can benefit. Until now the charitable societies spend large amounts of money on propagating their activities, on their employees and clerks. We recognize activities of some societies in certain seasons and occasions. Then we never hear about them for the rest of the year.
There are hundreds of societies. However, they have no role in the economic development of the country. Mr. Jamil Al-Anesi responded, “Charitable societies play a big role in fighting poverty and supporting the economic, social, medical, and educational development of the country. They participate in providing resources the state or private sector cannot afford. They do this by adopting many medical, educational, child and mother well fair programs, eliminating illiteracy and other sustainable development programs. There are differences among the charitable societies concerning objectives, policies, the number and size of programs they adopt, but by examining their field achievements we can evaluate them all and the role each society plays.” Mr. Anesi added, “All that is said about politicizing the charitable societies and about their becoming centers for money collection is not true. Such rumors emanate from political disputes and are dangerous to the mechanisms of civil institutions of the society and discourage organized voluntary work. We demand that the state must encourage and support those societies instead of discouraging them”. Said Mr. Al-Anesi.
Dr. Al-Asbahi said that charitable work in Yemen is still new. Charitable societies started their activities in the late eighties.
Mr. Bassam Al-Shaibani, Director Genera of the Solidarity Society, said, “More than 2500 charitable organizations were established in the last two decades. However, they could not perform their roles in eliminating poverty in Yemen. If every organization worked hard on supporting 155 poor families, then 250,000 families would no more be poor. Consequently, the figure of 30% of poverty that is families with no income in Yemen would disappear.
Charity works of societies in Ramadan
In Ramadan, charity societies become more active. for both religious and cultural reasons.
Ramadan charity works of the society of social reform. Dr. Hameed Hussain Ziyad, secretary general of the society of social reform said that those benefited from charity works of the society in seven years was more than 4,792, 441 people and 1,084, 588 families. The number of people and families expected to benefit from our charity work this year is 1,089,962 people and 123,728 families. Charity work is in the form of free meals in mosques, distributing different food ingredient to some families and free meals to other families, students and policemen.
Mr. Abdul Jabbar hael Saeed Anaam, chief of the society, Taiz branch held a press conference last Tuesday in Taiz and talked about Ramadan charity projects of the society in Taiz, he said that the society spent and amount of 44,341,050 Riyals from which 293,190 people benefited from. His expectations for this year were 115,660 people and 14,140 families to benefit from charity projects for this year. He added that the society has other charity projects; The society is bearing the costs of 2100 orphans with a total amount of 50,400,000 Riyals.
Mr. Bassam Al-Shibani, Director General of the Solidarity and Social Care society said that society’s schedule during Ramadan includes distributing food and clothing in coordination with the local society for the poor and people in need.
Mr. Adel Saeed Al-Qudsi spoke about the role of charitable societies in Ramadan and charity projects of Al-Wahda society; He said “In Ramadan, people compete to help others through charity; One might think that those societies become active only in Ramadan, the fact is they are active all year long but Ramadan is special.”Although, most charitable organizations have become business centers, there are charitable organizations that work, silently, for the poor. There are also individuals who sacrifice their interests for the interest of all people. It is good of some charitable organizations to make camps for free surgeries for patients. However, it would be better if they open free clinics for the poor people who cannot afford buying drugs. It is great to talk about the poor people and feel their pains but it would be greater if those organizations work together for the interest of society and people