From Disaster to Catastrophe
by Maureen Lines
The author has lived part of the year since 1986 and almost the entire year since 1993 in Pakistan mainly in the Kalash Valleys of the North West Frontier Province. This book reflects her love for the Kalash valleys and the people living in them. It also shows how difficult it is to run a charity and an NGO both of which she is responsible for starting in 1993 and 1995 respectively, where everything and everybody is political. Maureen explains the problems she encounters day-by-day while she is busy trying to help improve the life of the people of the valleys, be they Kalash, Muslim, Nuristani Muslims or Guja. Obstacles are thrown in her path by many organisations and many people. But she praises those government officials, western doctors and journalists who have supported her and come to her aid over the years.
The book gives an intimate picture of her life among the Kalash people and the ways of this unique ethnic minority group. Dogs, as well as people, play a big part in Maureen’s life. VIPs such as Diana, Princess of Wales and Lord Carrington are given space along with Hisbe Islami supporters who have given her hospitality in Nuristan and Kabul as well as Tora Bora in Afghanistan. The danger of militant extremists gives Maureen a headache when she is awarded a five-man police escort not to mention the bombs in Peshawar in 2009.
All through the book, the themes of the innocence of the Kalash, and their relationship to Western influences are contrasted with reality on the ground. Her human relationships with the people of the valleys and with animals and nature, along with a black sense of humour, make this a must read. It is for those who love exotic far-flung places, those who are interested in small and endangered ethnic groups, and those who wish to help some of the least privileged people on Planet Earth.
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