The following day we crossed the Atabad Lake heading north to Shimshal.
We had a good meeting with the director of the KADO IT Centre in Gulmit. We met with a new class of young students who were participating in a business IT program. We discussed with the director about BHI’s willingness to help fund a part time teacher to provide an e-health component to their general IT course. He agreed to work out a budget for such a program. After crossing the Lake we heard that the Shimshal road was temporarily closed due to a recent rockslide. At short notice, after meeting our great driver Sajjad on the far side of the lake, we decided to head to the village of Zood Khun, the last of eleven villages at the far end of the Chipursan Valley.
As the day light was fading, approaching the village of Zood Khun we met Alam Jan Dario heading by jeep in the opposite direction. Alam Jan is a great musician, poet, community leader and friend. In typical Hunza style, he joined us as we headed to a group of shepherds camped in a pasture beyond Zood Khun. The shepherds spend most of the daylight hours with their sheep/goats and yaks in the high country looking for good pasture and bring down their animals in the early evening so they can protect them from predators such as wolves, foxes and snow leopards.
We had a good discussion re: health issues with the shepherds over a cup of chai. As light was fading, we headed back to Alam Jan’s house for the night. We met his mother, wife and the rest of the family, had a lovely traditional meal and spent the night at his home.
His hospitality is well known. He has started planting fruit tress such as apricots/cherries/apples and mulberries and looking into a simple greenhouse design to extend the growing season for vegetables.
Chipursan Valley is colder and higher than Misgar and more difficult to grow fruits and vegetables.
Alam Jan has shown that it is possible to grow fruit and vegetables in this area. Hopefully his actions will inspire other families in the area to pursue similar activities.
The following morning we went back to visit the shepherds in daylight and did some health assessments and discussed nutrition and general health issues, especially those centred around close animal and human contact. It is important to be flexible with clinical evaluation times as the shepherds leave around 7.30 am and don’t get back to their camp until around 5.30pm.
Later that day we visited the local CAI built high school and met with students and teachers. CAI currently funds 2 teachers and AKS runs the school. Schools like this would very much benefit from internet connectivity. Hopefully it will happen soon. This school also has a good working relationship with parents.
In the afternoon Alam Jan and I visited the home of community health worker Aziza and her family.
She has been working in her community for over 20 years. She runs a dispensary service from an adjoining room attached to her house. She is available 24/7 without any backup help. She appeared to have a good supply of medicines which are restocked every 6 months by the government. She does see some Kyrghiz nomads from the Wakhan seasonally when they come across to trade via Baba Ghundi. We discussed possible ways we could support this initiative.