The founder of Czech hospital 2007
We are mountain climbers and I (Dina) visited Pakistan for the first time in 1970 as a member of thefirst Czechoslovak Karakorum Expedition. Later I returned there about 15 times. We fell in love with those huge and enormously beautiful mountains, as well as with the people residing in its deep valleys and gorges, often on the edge of the survival. It was a big wish of mine to help them somehow.
Our help started in 2005, during the great and terrible earthquake which was centered in the mountainous of the Himalaya and Karakorum and killed nearly a hundred thousands of victims. That time we (my husband and I) constructed together with the villagers of Askole and Chongo in Braldu valley two watersupply systems (Askole pastures, 4000m and Chongo village, 3000m).
The next year Viťa Dokoupil and I returned to Pakistan, bringing from the Czech Republic (via Karachi and Islamabad) two big containers containing a mobile hospital in parts, and a lot of medical equipment and medicines as well donated to the suffering Balti people by donors from Czech Republic. It was extremely difficult to overcome all of the bureaucracy and other custom and tax barriers and bring the whole consignment safely to Skardu via Karakorum Highway. Skardu is the name of the regional center of the Northern Areas (now Gilgit-Baltistan or GB) located in the upper part of the Indus Valley.
We completed the transport of the whole consignment to Arandu, which is the highest village (3000m) in the Basho valley, located near the outlet of the Basho River under the huge Chogo-Lungma glacier belonging to Haramosh mountain range. We considered this place as the most suitable to locate the hospital, because of the highest degree of the need we had observed. This place is one of the most remote and underdeveloped we had ever seen, cut off from civilization for more than 5 months out of the year during the long and severe himalayan winter season. The average winter mortality caused by pneumonia alone was approximately between 10 to 15 small children per year. The villagers had nearly no access to any health services or medicines. Their access to clean water was also very poor, the hygiene extremely bad. Almost all of the residents suffered from consequences of malnutrition which causes a wide variety of diseases, degenerations, etc. Roughly speaking their living conditions were not far from medieval ones, sometimes even stone-age-like. After transporting the whole consignment to Arandu, using for that purpose about thirty so-called “cargo jeeps”, since the extremely dangerous road there is only “jeepable”, we pitched up and finally completed the building of the mobile hospital from special polyurethane parts (each of them sandwiched between two steel plates) in frame of the same mission. Since 2007, the wintertime mortality of small children has plummeted - we have only recorded 3 cases (2007-2012)
Although the purpose of our two previous missions was attained by the completion of the hospital, we decided to continue our visits to Arandu in order to start and later run the health care there for Arandu and neighbouring village residents. For this purpose we started in 2008 to purchase the annual suplies of the medicines from the pharmacy distributors in Skardu. This supply, which has continued yearly since 2008, we consider to be the basic and most important service our small (two- member) NGO is providing. The funds for this supply which is rapidly growing, are donated every year by Czech donors, including our families. In 2008 we made the very necessary reconstruction of the water supply system, which uses the source of spring water from the slopes above the village. That same year, we reconstructed the source and the pipe system of the Arandu water supply,installing also a special sedimentation tank near of the source.
The high priority was to build the foundation for the future rescue system for both Basho and Braldu valleys purchasing one Toyota 4x4 truck, suitable for bringing patients in emergency cases from the remote villages. This too has decreased the mortality statistics. We extended the health service in Arandu organising regular visits of LHV (Lady health visitor), which means the beginning of Family planning and other care concerning mothers and children.
We made two visits to Arandu: one during the winter time (February-March) to get true and realistic information about the daily life and needs of the villagers during the hard winter time, as well as to get as much movie records for a doccumentary film as possible. Most probably, we were the first and only foreigners who havevisited this mountain area during the winter. The second visit took place during the summer time when we imported from the Czech Republic photo-voltaic panels and installed a power station on the roof of the hospital. This enabled us to use sophisticated medical equipment like ECG, a sugar machine, a microscope, and oxygen unit as well as lights, a refrigerator and some other appliances. At the same time we donated to the hospital a laptop that enabled us to create a much Better and more transparent system of evidence of the medical service provided there. At the same time we extended the mobile rescue system while donating another one Toyota 4x4, so now one is serving the Braldu valley (Askole) and the second one is serving the Basho valley (Arandu). Both of them are working on the idea of self-sustenance supporting, as both of them are supposed to earn money providing ordinary transport services for the residents, while the first priority of using the vehicle for the emergency cases is automatically respected.
We succeeded in two goals: the first was the repair of the last part of the jeepable road from Doko to Arandu (approx. 20km) as this part had become very dangerous after several winter avalanches, landslides and the huge flood in 2010. Several cars had fallen down from the road unfortunately, and in June 2010, the most tragic accident took four human lives and caused two very serious injuries. Using the effective help of a very experienced and good-hearted local contractor we were able to finish this difficult task during our summer mission there. After the road was repaired and enlarged, the first tractor together with a thrasher machine, which we purchsed in Lahore and donated to the village Arandu, were transported to Arandu to make future harvests easier.
Finally, during our last mission to Arandu, we enlarged and reconstructed the local elementary school which was totally insufficient for the existing number of children in age of 7 to 13 years. We also accomplished a substantial reconstruction of the main irrigation channel which was totally destroyed (approx. length: 300m) near its source, which is a small side glacier located in the massive of the mountain Bargandjo. We repaired as well the rest of the channel (approx. length 3km). This channel is of a vital importace for the village because of the prevailing semi-desert extremely Conclusion It is impossible to present here a complete list of our activities in Arandu since 2006-2012, so we list here only the most important ones. Actually it is evident, that we follow three most important pillars of the complex help which only should change the stone age /middle age living conditions there as soon as possible: health service, providing access to education, technical constructions and facilities. At the moment we consider the access to education as the most important from point of view of the future and of the self-sustainability of the whole project . At the moment it seems most essential to provide simple accommodation in Skardu for those students age of twelve and up who will be chosen to attend secondary schools and colleges there. Because of the long distance and danger of the jeepable road connecting Skardu and Arandu it is completely impossible to enable those children to visit the schools mentioned without providing accomodation. So we would like buy, or get donated by the municipality of Skardu, a piece of land (1 kanal) there to construct a modest but suitable house which will serve the students as a dormitory there. But, as we concluded, for this purpose much higher financial support than we ever collected before will be necessary and this is the reason that we are asking also some of potential open-minded donors to contribute.Thank you for your kind understanding and for your HELP in advance.
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