Covid-19 has hit Chitral like any other place of the world, but it has stranded the locals in this small valley without any income and for some people without an access to the support from the government, and it is time like this that the locals need your help.
Chitral is situated in the extreme north of Pakistan, at an elevation of 1128 meters and borders with Afghanistan, Wakhan and Gilgit Baltistan. Chitral is one of the most beautiful valleys in Pakistan with steep mountains like The 7,788 meters (25,550 ft) Terichmir, the highest peak of the Hindukush mountain, and the lush green fields, the waterfalls, the hot springs, glaciers, clean rivers and is home for wildlife like Markhor and bear. Chitral is host to the highest polo ground in the world where Shandur polo festival takes place every summer and tourists from around the world come and enjoy the king of games and the game of the kings. Many of you must know about the unique Kalasha community of Chitral who consider themselves to be from the family of Alexander the great, and people from around the world come to participate in their beautiful pagan rituals and to enjoy their astonishing culture.
All the tourists who visit Chitral never want to leave this place because of the beauty of the region, but more importantly; because of the hospitality of Chitrali people. Chitrali people are very hard working, hospitable, peaceful and loving. The major activities in Chitral, especially in upper Chitral is farming and rearing cattle, but with the influx of modernity and increasing population; this local way of livelihood does not suffice the families and the heads of families have to do some kind of job. The only limitation for people of Chitral is that there is not enough job opportunities for the locals in Chitral, so most of the males travel to cities and do different kind of hard labour to feed their families. They spend their winters and springs in the cities like Peshawar, Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi and return home in summer to live off the earned money for the rest of the year. The people of Chitral are thus very self-sufficient due to their dedication towards their families and the literacy rate of Chitral is one of the highest in the country because the parents in Chitral always prioritize the education of their kids over anything, even if it means doing labour work in the cities for months.
As we all know, this year has been tough for the world and the lock downs around the world and specially in Pakistan have put daily wage workers in a very tough situation. Similarly, the daily wage workers from Chitral had to return home 4 months earlier because of the lockdown and now their families have no source of income. The government of Pakistan had started the EHSAS program that supports needy people, but the data base that the government used comes from a system from the previous government that was collected around ten years ago. It is reasons like this outdated system and many others that a lot of really needy people in Chitral could not get any support from the support and are left with no money to feed their families.
We, a group of young people from Chitral, gathered data through a volunteer from each village of such people who could not get any support from the government and other agencies but need support in this difficult time. We crossed verified the list with the local councils and double checked with the village leaders for the authenticity of the list and this whole process took us several weeks because we really want to deliver to the deserving people. These people would not come out on the street because of the self-respect that is imbedded in the culture, but they are facing a very difficult time as we have seen it with our own eyes.
We have gathered data for upper Chitral now, and our data suggests that 814 families in the extremely remote areas of Chitral did not get any support from anyone and are facing economic difficulty. Thanks to our dedicated volunteers for collecting this primary data and to the leaders for verifying the data for us.
We have done our research from local sources, and we have decided that we will provide each family with 5000 PKR ( Equivalent to £25.5 GBP and $31.5 US Dollars) of financial support which will suffice them for at least two months, and we hope that the lock down will be over by then. We will use the help of our assigned volunteers to deliver the support and the signed receipt will be made public, while any kind of digital media will only be made available for donors in person with the agreement that they do not share the pictures or videos publicly. Keeping in view this situation, we have decided to appeal to the generous people around the world to contribute to the fundraiser for these hardworking people who have been victim to the COVID-19 economic collapse. There has never been a time, unless a natural disaster or pandemic like the current one, that Chitralis have been in need of any financial assistance for their families but unexpected times like today require measures like what we are trying to achieve. Chitral has always played its role in hosting tourists from around the world with a great love and hospitality, and it is time that the international community helps the people in this difficult time. Eid is around the corner, and if we can contribute even half of our Eid and monthly expense, it will make a huge difference. Let’s fight the economic drawback of the COVID-19 together and we will make sure that your contribution goes to the most deserving people who have been left under open sky due to the issue in the system or otherwise, and our data-driven fundraiser will help them get through this tough time. It is time to share smiles and help people who want to work to feed their families but cannot do so due the pandemic. Every rupee count, and even a single kindness can go a long way.
For transparency purpose the closing balance of account used from 05/05/2020 and when the campaign finishes and other financial obligations will be shared with public here.