“We don’t view our work as ‘charity’, we view it as an extension of ‘Ibaada’, as investing in humanity. We are empowering our own people – giving them the tools and means to become a better future of Azad Kashmir and Pakistan” – KORT Chairman Ch Mohammed Akhtar.

Birmingham came out on top as the single biggest fundraiser to date for the Kashmir Orphan Relief Trust (KORT), with the Kashmiri/Pakistani communities uniting from across the Midlands to raise funds for a state-of-the-art hospital in Jorian (near Jatlan) in Azad Kashmir.

KORT’s Birmingham fundraiser, held at Crystal Plaza in Sparkbrook was organised by the local trustee Mohammed Nisar and KORT’s core Birmingham team on Saturday 6th July, 2024.

In an unprecedented show of support for KORT, Birmingham’s Kashmiri and Pakistani communities donated very generously towards its £32M free healthcare hospital project in the Mirpur District.

On the night, more than ten wards, fully equipped patient beds and medical equipment, were pledged by the invited guests from the local business community and the general public.

Attendees enjoyed the entertainment by nasheed artists Naseeb Abbas and Hafiz Nasir Khan.

KORT’s Jorian project is developing a hospital and on-site educational facilities stemming from a profound need for accessible and quality healthcare services in the region.

KORT’s founder and chairman Chaudhry Mohammed Akhtar, speaking to Asian Express comments: “The support our Kashmiri brothers and sisters in the UK have shown in recent days towards our Jorian Hospital Project is testament to how invested they are to their home region.

“The KORT team would like to extend special thanks to all the attendees, donors and of course our organisers of the Birmingham event – Malik Abdul Shakoor, Shabir Ahmed, Mohammed Rashid, Shaid Aslam, Kamran Khan, Waheed Ahmed, Seema Yousaf and Sofina Ahmed, for their efforts and hard work for organising and delivering this record-breaking event.”

Azad Kashmir has been riddled with contentious bureaucracy since 1947, which has hindered economic and social development compared with mainland Pakistan. For Kashmiris living and working in the UK, it’s almost like no choice but to take charge and invest in the region themselves, since almost all have families there.

KORT’s journey began 18- years ago in the aftermath of the devastating 2005 earthquake that rocked the northern areas of Kashmir and Pakistan. Back then, witnessing the plight of thousands – especially the orphan children compelled Ch Akhtar to respond. He took the first steps and rented a building in established sanctuary for orphan children, but that was just the beginning.

“Fuelled by desire to provide even greater support, in 2008, I set out to build a new purpose facility, that would redefined the very concept of an orphanage. And am proud to say that we’ve delivered educational and residential projects for over 1,500 children to date.

“Such is the support and interest in the orphanage, that each month we see around 2000 visitors who have the chance to tour the facilities, speak to the children and staff, and witness first-hand the provisions we have for the educational and social care of these vulnerable children.”

But now, KORT has a new determined mission, one that will redefine healthcare, industry training and education.

The Jorian Hospital project will develop a new 500-bed hospital complex will feature an Accident & Emergency department, along with full hospital services such as outpatient care, radiology, paediatrics, pathology, pulmonary, dental and eye clinics.

Alongside this, KORT will be developing on site, accommodation for staff and students, a medical college, dental college, a nursing training college, as well as other facilities.

Ch Akhtar continues: “We don’t view our work as ‘charity’, we view it as an extension of ‘Ibaada’, as investing in humanity. We are empowering our own people back home – giving them the tools and means to become a better future of Azad Kashmir and Pakistan.”

With 4.5 million residents living before below the poverty line, many encounter significant obstacles when seeking specialised medical treatment, often necessitating costly and exhausting journeys to Islamabad or Lahore.

Visit kort.org.uk for more information.