Wednesday, 7 November 2007

November 7th clinic in Naland

After that freezing night ,during which I heard the eerie call to prayer echo all around the mountains as I shivered in the darkness,it was a total delight to set out for Naland in the morning sunshine.The journey was spectacular and at times it felt as if we were travelling to the very end of the earth.
The entire journey was off road or on bumpy dirt tracks which followed the river through the valleys and up into the mountains. In some areas we travelled miles with no sign of habitation . Then suddenly a mudbricked village would appear on the horizon with autumn coloured poplars gracing the river below.
On we travelled through those arid,dust coloured ,undulating mountains,so hostile ,yet so beautiful. As we turned one hairpin bend,we saw a school perched on the rocks beneath us...a few shelters made of canvas and sticks housing brightly dressed village children.We made our way down to meet them and saw girls sitting ,isolated ,dotted along the hillside. It turned out they were taking an exam.From their school you could see the clear green waters of the icy river stretching far below and through the distant hills.
Naland is four hours from Faizabad along these dirt roads .For four months every year ,it is cut off from the outside world ...the only access being by foot .A massive ravine separates one mountain head from another ....a spectacular drop to the valley floor below .From the nearside mountain you see Naland village clinging to the mountain opposite and looking so tiny and insignificant in the vast landscape.
We went to visit the clinic and this is one of the 19 clinics which will house the vaccine refrigerators we have funded. We met the "vaccinator" who walks miles from here to distant villages to vaccinate the inhabitants. He told us of the problems he faces in covering such distances and in the resistance from some mullahs to let him vaccinate women . So far this year he has vaccinated 3200 men ,women and children.
Some villages are 8 hours from this-their nearest clinic . If a woman in labour needs a caesarian section ,she then faces another 4 hour car journey on those treacherous roads to reach hospital. In the winter she would have to be carried across the ravine.
We met the 3 female health workers from Tajikistan ,who have left nice homes and modern lives to work in this isolated clinic which pays so much better than home. They have no heating ,running water or electricity and sleep in one tiny room . They gave us lunch and so many gifts to take home with us--all very humbling .After my freezing night ,I was moved to leave money for blankets for the staff who get really cold at night!
Tea in an Afghan house on our way home....hospitality here so overwhelming.
Arrived back so shaken up from the journey ...but what an insight into those live and all the hardships faced by these people living in such isolated and hostile environments!we just have no idea......................

1 comment:

David Pemberton said...

Please advise how can we send a blanket to the blog writer? OR perhaps just a suet pudding to put some more weight on her so she keeps warm! Congratulations on a really worthwhile effort.