In 2013 and 2015 the Kalash Valleys in northern Pakistan saw huge floods that washed away homes, village buildings and the local primary school. In the village of Balanguru – one of three villages in the Kalash Valleys – five luckless houses close to the river’s edge were destroyed along with the bridge that connected the village to the road. Thousands of tons on mud spewed into other buildings – including the temple of the family, Justak Khan - and crops and water channels were destroyed.
Concerned that the situation was getting worse with the annual floodwater eating away at the riverbank, Saifullah Jan, the chief spokesperson for the Kalash, and friend to Wild Frontiers founder Jonny Bealby for over 20 years, approached us to see if we could help. He felt if something wasn’t done soon the village of Balanguru could be swept away.
The Kalash are a vulnerable people that live in a vulnerable world. Over the years they have done so much for us, welcoming Wild Frontiers and our travellers into their community and homes. It seems only right we could continue to do something positive for them and help protect the community.
Sharing their concerns, we started a Kalash Wall Fund and dedicated our annual ‘Evening of Adventure’ at the Royal Geographical Society in March 2017 to the cause. With guest speakers, including the legendary writer, actor and traveller Michael Palin, who visited the Kalash during his Himalayan series, we raised over £7000 on the night. With further generous donations after the event the total grew to £10,000 and the construction work on a new, even longer, flood defence wall began.
In May 2017 Jonny returned to the Kalash Valleys and together with Saifullah, ceremoniously laid the first rock of the new 100ft flood defence wall and by October the construction was complete.
With the funds raised and the wall built all in a matter of seven months, it was a fantastic result!
The Wild Frontiers Foundation is proud to support communities we visit at a grass-roots level. Thank you to everyone that contributed and helped make this happen.
Related blog - Laying the First Stone