Two months after heavy rains sent mud gushing down the valley, damaging community buildings in its wake, the clean-up operation is almost complete in the small Kalash village of Balanguru.
Crucially, the excavation work to clear the tonnes of mud that immersed the village guesthouse, community temple and caused minor damage to the primary school, has been completed before the onset of winter high in the mountains of northwest Pakistan.
With little income from tourism this year due to COVID-19, and the necessary community funds to carry out the work following the mudslide in early September, village spokesperson and friend of Wild Frontiers, Saifullah, called on us for help.
Through the Wild Frontiers Foundation, we were able to fund the clean-up and repairs to the buildings, which fortunately remained structurally sound. The damage to the boundary wall and toilet block of the primary school has been fixed and the mud cleared from the school’s classroom and the community’s temple.
The village guesthouse took the brunt of the impact, with many of its rooms and furnishings submerged in mud. The guesthouse is vital to the small pagan community and its future tourist income when not only Wild Frontiers clients, but other guests, are able to visit again. The repair work has included building a new stone wall to help protect the guesthouse from future flooding, along with replacing stairs, windows and balcony railings in the stone and wooden structure.
The Balanguru village is no stranger to flooding. After high river levels caused devastating damage to the village that sits on its banks in 2013 and again in 2015, the Wild Frontiers Foundation funded the construction of a 100ft flood defence wall to help protect the community. The wall was not put to the test this time, as the mudslide came from high above the village, where it is difficult to put measures in place to prevent such acts of nature.
As a community living a simpler life in the mountains, the Kalash are vulnerable to the harsh elements this can sometimes bring. Through the Wild Frontiers Foundation, we will continue to support the community where we can to help preserve their traditional and unique way of life.
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