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Volunteer Updates

Update:

February 12, 2006

Sarah Dion and myself, Mike Morris, touched down in Islamabad on February 1, 2006.  We spent the day shopping for winter clothes and getting ready for the impending journey.  The next day we headed off to the tent village located in Chatter Kallas, half an hour away from Muzaffarabad.  We set ourselves up in a tent in the camp and spent the few days digging drainage trenches, setting up tents and helping in the day to day operations of the camp.  Everything is set up well at this point and the camp runs fairly smoothly, due to the efforts of volunteers, the Dewan Grroup and other NGOs, most notably the Turkish Red Crescent.  However, there have been some incidents, including several tent fires caused by faulty electrical wiring and one child suffered facial burns in the worst fire, but will recover in the Turkish Red Crescent temporary hospital.

On February 6, Sarah and I decided to go to the Kashmir mountains with a team from the Dewan Group and scout out a village called Mistumba, 32 km past Chikkar.  The village consists of roughly 750 homes, most of which are constructed of stone and mortar, fifty to one hundred years ago, thus completely damaged or destroyed.  All five schools were destroyed and the children currently have no campus for a school.  The water system was destroyed and now the only available water is several kilometers away in the valley.  We are going to set up base camp there and help to begin constructing permanent homes using wood and sheet metal.  Currently the villagers are still living in tents, despite the cold Himalayan weather and damage to the tents caused by snow and rainfall. 

Unfortunately, supplies are hard to come by, so Sarah and I have gone to Muzaffarabad and Islamabad, constructing a project proposal and presenting it to NGOs in hopes of getting supplies and materials.  We’ve also been posting pictures and updates on our websites in hopes of fundraising to buy materials ourselves.  We will be presenting the proposal at the U.N. meetings Tuesday Feb 14 and Thursday Feb 16, held in the U.N. compound in Muzaffarabad.  Here we hope to use the forum to shed light on the current situation in Mistumba and gain assistance from larger and more resource-available groups and NGOs.  We plan to head back to Mistumba on Friday, hopefully with supplies and tents for schools in tow.  Building should begin immediately and there will be no shortage of work to do in the next several months. 

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