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Karakoram Highway to Kyrgyzstan

Ethical Cycling

School in Bagrot

August 2014 BAGROT SCHOOL HEADTEACHER VISIT TO THE UK

Redspokes is very happy to welcome Mr Hashim Ali to the UK for a 6 month study programme. Mr Hashim is Head Teacher of The BASE (Bagrot Association for Social Enhancement) School in the Bagrot Valley, Gilgit/Baltistan. The School was set up in 2002 by the local community with the aim of helping more children from the valley access higher education. English is regarded as the key to this.

Hashim Ali is one of the best English-speaking teachers in the valley, he will study in the UK to improve his English so that he can return and further train his teachers. Although they are all graduates and speak English to some degree, there is no way for them to hear English spoken by natives in this remote valley. As part of his training here he will focus on raising the standard of pronunciation, inflection and knowledge of idioms. Mr Hashim will promote an English-speaking programme on his return in other areas of the Bagrot Valley and with the Education Department in Gilgit.

During his stay here Mr Hashim will stay with Tim and Ruth Dunsby, both retired teachers who volunteered at the BASE in 2013 which was arranged through redspokes and the LVCF. They have been instrumental in supporting his visit to the UK. Please come and meet Mr Hashim and learn more about his school on 27 September.

Venue:

Z bar58 Stoke Newington High StreetLondonN16 7PB

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On the 2nd March 2013 we will be holding a fundraising event in aid of our newest charity appeal http://www.justgiving.com/LVCF-Redspokes-Bagrot-appeal.

and would love it if you could join us for the evening in London. We have a fantastic line up for the night which will focus on the area; the work we have been doing; and the latest campaign.

The evening will kick-off with a screening of the award-winning film €˜Karakoram Highway: Road to Globalisation€™ which focuses on the area we€™ve been working in. We€™re delighted to have one of the film€™s directors, Gabriela Neuhaus, joining us from Zurich for the evening too.

Our guest speaker is Monika Schneid, a great friend of the charity and truly inspirational person. Monika first visited Bagrot in 1990 and went on to open a highly respected girls school in the valley, which she still oversees today. She has learnt to speak Shina fluently and sits on the board of the community self-help organisation that runs the school in Bagrote. Monika will talk about her experiences setting up the school and living in this beautiful, remote part of the world.

So the evening will go something like this:

6:30pm: Doors open / welcome

7:00pm: Film screening: €˜Karakoram Highway: Road to Globalisation€™ with an introduction from the director, Gabriela Neuhaus.

8:00pm: Food: hot and cold mezes

8.30pm: Guest speaker: Monika Schneid €“ On her experience of living in a remote Shia community in Northern Pakistan, followed by questions.

9:45pm: Brief (promise) sum up talk from Dermot

Venue:

Zbar

58 Stoke Newington High Street

London

N16 7PB

I really hope you€™ll be able to join us for the evening €“ it should be an informative & fun night. The cost, which includes food, is £20, with all profits going straight into the appeal.

Please note that space is limited the first 50 people: RSVP essential by email.

office@redspokes.co.uk

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PAKISTAN FLOODINGA little over a year ago we asked for your help with an urgent appeal for the people of Hussainabad in northern Pakistan. We hoped to raise £4,000 to provide warm clothing, fuel and shelter for 50 families who had lost their homes due to a landslide during the 2010 flooding. The families had been re-housed in tents in a local IDP camp, but with the NGO's already stretched elsewhere in the country, there were no plans for assistance beyond this.

The response to our appeal was amazing. You donated £4,120 (over £5,200 with Gift Aid) in less than 2 months, at a time when all talk here was of economic gloom and belt tightening. The situation in Pakistan was moving quickly, and it became clear that the Aga Khan Foundation (the only major NGO working in the region) was also earmarking funds for the village. As a result, we were able to think beyond temporary shelter and look towards permanent re-housing for the families.

Working with the Aga Khan Foundation, whose buildings agency (the AKPBS) provided the technical know-how and raw materials, your donations paid for up to 30 labourers each day to work on the rebuilding project. This involved building 28 brand new homes to replace those that were either beyond repair or were located on ground deemed to be at risk of further landslide. The village committee, set up by our friend Mr Arman, oversaw recruitment of good people and payment of their wages. As a result, all the houses were complete by Spring last year and all 50 families were either back in their repaired homes, or re-settled in the brand new ones €“ result!

Following this we were still left with a substantial chunk of the appeal fund (labour in northern Pakistan is so cheap!). Since then we have been actively looking at how best to spend this money, in a way that does justice to the generosity everyone showed. At the forefront of our minds has been to find a small, sustainable project, that can be administered transparently and bring genuine benefits to the community.

We had several disappointing dead ends, but now believe we may have found a really great project to support. We found this through contact with an amazing German woman, Monika Schneid, who's lived in the Bagrot valley (to the east of Gilgit) for many years, running a girls school she set up there. As she's mastered the local Shina language she's very well connected in the area and was able to put us in contact with two community leaders in the village of Chirah.

Chirah is the final village along the valley road and the least well developed. It has a small primary school and the older children attend secondary in the next village along and we contacted them with the suggestion of supporting the schools. The villagers felt that the current arrangement is acceptable for the time being but saw another priority. We therefore hope to set up a small women's centre in the village, equipped with sewing machines and a qualified sewing teacher. This would give the women a skill with which to earn an income, selling the textiles locally at market. Gilgit-Baltistan is an area where few women work, and many men still leave the home to look for work elsewhere, so we hope this will be a really worthwhile initiative. It's one that the village are all really behind.

Sorry that this update has been so long in coming, but thank you again, and we'll keep you posted!

A sincere thank you from:

  • Mr Arman Ali, Red Spokes guide and village resident
  • The Hussainabad Disaster Management Committee
  • Mr Nasir Hussain
  • LVCF*
  • And all at Red Spokes Adventure Tours

* LVCF is a registered UK charity originally set up in 2004 by a group of cyclists inspired by a tour of Laos with Red Spokes Adventure Tours. Its original aim was to provide direct funding to rural villages in Laos for education and water projects. The scope of the charity has now been extended to include other countries where there are clear needs which the charity can address.

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