The Friends of Al-Falah (the Hope) Foundation was established in 2002
The Foundation aims to support youth in general and more specific disadvantaged youth in Quetta, Pakistan. The Foundation seeks to achieve this objective through:
– The consolidation of the shelter for under privileged youth, which was erstwhile founded by the late father Otto Postma (Franciscan).
– Consultation with the people in Quetta that are directly responsible for the expenditure of funds
The Foundation aims not for profit. (Founding Act dated March 27, 2002
The Foundation is registered with the Chamber of Commerce in Amsterdam under number 34173181.
The history of the Al-Falah Hostel
A hostel for the disadvantaged youth in Quetta, Pakistan
The last years of his life Otto Postma OFM had serious worries about the future of Al-Falah, the boys hostel he founded and for the establishment of which he spent his life in Quetta, Pakistan.
Two issues were at stake. The funding of the hostel had no regular income base. And secondly, who would succeed him as caretaker-mentor-father of the boys living in Al-Falah.
Trials to have an assistant or someone to become his successor failed. A trial to replace him temporarily during his holidays in Holland failed as well. In a second attempt Otto initiated a discussion group of (former) Al-Falah students. This group formally registered with the government and was established as an local NGO for social action. It was called Najat. The ultimate aim was to create a legal structure for the future development of Al-Falah.
The boys and girls of Najat were strongly motivated and enthusiastic, but it turned out that they were too young and unexperienced to take over the full responsibility for the centre. Concerning the finances, Otto had started to put aside some savings the interest of which could be used in the future for the running costs of Al-Falah.
Otto’s health was bad after so many years of crossing dusty Quetta by motorbike, but his sudden death on 1-10-2001 made the future of Al-Falah even more uncertain. At that moment it didn’t have a reliable financial base, a solid institutional set-up or a suitable candidate for his succession.
Otto was a Franciscan friar, yet from the Franciscans in Pakistan no-one was available to take his place.
As a catholic entity Al-Falah stood under the authority of the diocese of Hyderabad, now Quetta. Unfortunately the diocese was more interested in the physical infrastructure, the buildings and the little playfield of Al-Falah than in taking care of the education and personal development of disadvantaged youngsters in Quetta.
A commemoration service in Otto’s memory was held in Delft (13-10-2001) and attended by a large number of his friends, family, and people who met him in Quetta during their work in the field of development cooperation. Among the speeches a message was read from Prince Claus, a dear and respected friend.
All the attendants were unanimous in their desire to look for ways to support the continuation of Otto´s work and the support for the disadvantaged youth in Quetta. For this purpose a foundation was established and formally registered as a NGO on 27-03-2002 under the name of Friends of Al-Falah.
For a foreign/Dutch organisation the room for assisting at finding a solution for Al-Falah in faraway Quetta was limited. The more so as the philosophy of Friends of Al-Falah is, like Otto’s approach, more according to Gospel teachings than to formal structural church principles.
The Salesians of Don Bosco came to Pakistan in 1995. They took over a technical training centre in Lahore. In 2000 father Peter Zago SDB came to Quetta exploring possibilities for helping Afghan refugees. The Salesians have a long experience supporting disadvantaged youngsters and their approach is very similar to the one followed by Otto Postma. Taking over of Al-Falah by the Salesians would have been a logical step. Yet the Salesians were foreigners, new to Quetta, its culture and language. Moreover, addressing the refugee crisis was an urgent task and one of their priorities.
Immediately after Otto’s death, master Sadiq, the daily manager of Al-Falah, , took over the direct care and responsibility of the hostel under supervision of the Franciscans. It was followed by a short period of administration by an interim team nominated by the bishop of Hyderabad. Next, the new vicar of Quetta nominated Younus Barkat director of Al-Falah. At the end of 2004 a formal agreement was signed by the Diocese of Quetta and the Salesians. It stated that the Salesians would take responsibility for the hostel for an initial period of five years. Part of this agreement was a financial deal. The Diocese and Friends of Al-Falah would each guarantee to support the hostel financially.
After a juridical procedure the Diocese had received the funds Otto had deposited in a savings account. The Diocese promised to use the interest received on these savings for the running costs of the hostel. Friends of Al-Falah would contribute to the running costs from donations and funds collected in Holland. Friends of Al-Falah contributed yearly and regularly. The Diocese had to be reminded time and again to transfer its part. In general, the financial administration of the Diocese was never transparent and there was no consultation with the beneficiaries. Once the Diocese made a generous gift for renovation works in Al-Falah, but afterwards it turned out that it had deducted this donation from the savings earmarked for Al-Falah. In spite of repeated requests the church never agreed to transfer the funds to the Salesians, now in charge of Al-Falah.
Najat, one of the stakeholders in the future development of A-Falah, was side-lined by the Diocese during this transitional process. From side-lined and mistrust in the beginning to exclusion and boycott. Obviously Najat lacked the required management skills, but because of their own experience as (old)students in Al-Falah they were strongly motivated to contribute to the future development of the hostel.
The difficulties between Najat and the Diocese placed Friends of Al-Falah in a dilemma. Friends of Al-Falah therefore decided to continue its support to Al-Falah, but at the same time to financially support the educational programmes which Najat had initiated.
After a promising start, the implementation of these programmes confronted Najat with management problems which it unfortunately were not able to solve. External professional support to solve the internal problems didn’t succeed. As the chairman , who was motivated by strong ambition and a lack of prudency, got involved in political corruption, Friends of Al-Falah had no other option than to stop the collaboration. This happened in 2015.
After a timid beginning the Salesians extended their presence in Quetta enormously.In front of the Bolan Medical College they established a large compound. First a school for about 800 students, boys and girls, many from Afghan refugee families, a “kindergarten”, a large sports field , a covered sports space, a church, a multipurpose hall, a girls hostel, a residence for sisters and a residence for the Salesian fathers (the two parts of the compound, separated by a wadi, are connected by a bridge, and the outskirts on one side of the compound are protected by a housing scheme). The Al-Falah hostel was moved to this compound at the end of 2009 and integrated in the Don Bosco Learning Centre as the whole complex is called.
Otto’s philosophy and approach of taking care of the disadvantaged youth was very similar to the one adopted by the Salesians. He treated them as a father paying attention to each and every boy . He could do this because of his long presence in Baluchistan and his profound knowledge of the culture and language. The first Salesians were all foreigners who had to learn the language. Father Samuel Adnan is the first Pakistani Salesian. He came back to Pakistan after finishing his studies in the Philippines in 2017 to become the first Pakistani director of Al-Falah. The continuation of Otto’s efforts for the disadvantaged youth in Quetta is in good hands now.
Results. Some figures
Friends (Friends of Al-Falah; FoA) supports the Al-Falah Hostel, which has provided a home for 20 to 50 boys yearly in the period from 2002-2019. At the moment there are 26 boys.
The Girls Hostel has provided a home for a growing number of girls. At the moment there are 21 girls.
All of them are from faraway isolated villages , from places where there is merely an Islamic school or they are from divorced and other problematic families.
With the help from Friends, the Al-Falah Hostel provided a number of scholarships to students at university level, among others to a doctoral student (girl) at the faculty of architecture, Karachi University; to a master student (boy) at the Higher Institute of Finance, Karachi, to a number of master students at ICRA University in Quetta and for a study at the faculty of medicine at Ukraine University. In total 15 girls and boys.
Don Bosco started its activities in Quetta in 1998 , opening a small school for preschool and primary education.During the years thereafter the number of children increased enormously and education at secondary level was added, The school is now known as Don Bosco Learning Centre (DBLC). It provides education to 850 children. Many of them are Afghan refugees and children from other ethnic or religious minorities.
Donations from FoA made it possible for Najat during the period 2004 to 2019 and thereafter for Salesian Welfare Society ( SWS) during the period 2015 to 2019 to support hundreds of families with a small contribution to the costs of regular government education. These donations from FoA enabled Najat as well to organise vocational training sessions for tailoring and barbers for boys and dressmaking and beauticians for girls. Moreover it made it possible for Najat to organise homework support and additional (evening) courses for school leavers.