May 2013 update

Chairman’s Report

It is my great pleasure again to be able to report to all our friends and supporters on the excellent progress of HKCA. In particular I would like to refer to the truly outstanding efforts of Maureen Lines who even during illness has provided us all with a paradigm of toughness and resilience that is difficult to match. She continues to astonish. However Maureen’s work and that of HKCA can only go ahead if the trustees and supporters continue to offer all the support they can, in whatever way they can. I know that we all do this.

Maureen Lines with her adopted family.

We may be a very small charity but what follows is to give you a picture of what goes on behind the scenes. In particular I would like to focus on what we have to do yearly in submitting documentation to the Charity Commissioners – this is legally binding and is the responsibility of the trustees. The Charity Commissioners require an annual statement of income and expenditure. This is has to be certified by an independent Chartered Accountant. Both the trustees and the independent Chartered Accountant give their services free, including travel costs to trustees meetings. This is of great benefit to HKCA. The trustees also have to submit to the Charity Commissioners an Annual Return on line. The Annual Return provides a summary of income and expenditure, a list of current and new trustees with their addresses and dates of birth. In the Annual Return we also have to provide a formal Charity classification that has to identify what the charity sets out to do. Amongst the list of twenty four items provided by the Charity Commissioners, we have identified “educational training”, “advancement of health”, “overseas aid and famine relief”,

Famine relief by HKCA at the time of the 2011 floods.

“accommodation and housing”, “environmental conservation and heritage”, “people of a particular ethnic or racial origin” (for us the Kalasha).  Many of these overlap as you will realise. However they do provide a vital backdrop for those who wish to know more about HKCA. The Annual Return also requires the trustees to identify how HKCA operates. Out of the ten options provided in the Annual Return we have identified “making grants to individuals” (Maureen Lines) and “providing human resources”.

I would also like to comment on the Trustees annual report for 2012 – 2013. This is again required by the Charity Commissioners. I quote from parts of the annual report as follows, to give you a flavour of how we see things. As you know, the objectives of the charity are to support rural communities in the Hindu Kush, especially the Kalasha, and are centred  on improving community education, health, and living conditions. They also include responding to natural and man-made catastrophes, and ensuring the environmental sustainability of the region – especially the forests and associated fauna and flora.

The trustees’ expertise covers a wide range of experience including law, business, journalism, the environment, and education in the HE sector. It also includes considerable experience of working in developing countries – especially Pakistan. This provides an excellent basis for the conduct and regulation of the charity. The trustees’ gender balance is currently one female and five male, and one ethnic minority. The present trustees are actively investigating the potential for greater gender equality and ethnic minority equality. A medically qualified trustee and a trustee who has school-teaching qualifications and experience are also needed. Friends and supporters please let us have any ideas here.

We maintain close contact with Maureen Lines. There is weekly and often daily email contact between her, the President and Chairman of the trustees. This concerns short term or emergency items – as in the recent 2010 and 2011 floods, and longer term activities and planned developments such as the building and staffing of the new school. The year 2012-2013 has been less prone to natural disasters than 2011-2012 year. However the environment of the Hindu Kush and particularly that of the Kalash Valleys in Chitral is always challenging. Earthquakes and flash floods are common events, and the trustees are aware of the need for quick action when required. In Chitral and especially the Kalash Valleys, flash floods destroy homes, erode valuable agricultural land, and destroy roads and bridges. The trustees are very much aware of these issues, and several of them have direct experience of the area and the Kalasha, while Maureen Lines has a unique long term record in the area.

During the 2012-2013 year the charity has continued to financially support the transport and medical treatment of ill and injured members of the Kalasha from the Kalash Valleys either to Chitral Town or to Peshawar. This is organised and supervised by Maureen as an on-going and important part of the work funded by HKCA. The construction of a school for the Kalasha children in Birir valley has also been a prime objective of the trustees. Maureen Lines is playing a central role in overseeing the planning and construction of this much needed facility. The majority of the building is now completed although additional building work is needed. There is also an urgent need for basic facilities including chairs and tables, books and other teaching materials. The trustees are delighted with the progress of the school building, and sincerely thank the many donors who have made this progress possible in particular Heather Madine.

Working with other charities has great potential and actual benefits to a small charity such as HKCA. For example during the 2010 – 2011 floods, Maureen worked in the Kalash valleys with local people operating very successfully with the UN World Food Programme. The trustees are very much aware of the benefits of arrangements such as this, and are continuing to provide every encouragement to Maureen to widen her collaborative ventures with relevant NGOs, governmental and international organisations. Experience elsewhere strongly indicates that collaborative ventures of this sort will have immediate and sustainable benefit for the Kalash communities and their environment, as well as for the wider area of Chitral and the Hindu Kush.

Risk management is of vital importance in a geographical area such as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. It includes management of risk associated with natural disasters of various sorts – earthquakes landslides, flash floods – and risk associated with local insurrections. Both of these risk elements occur periodically and can cause problems. During the current year 2012-2013, risk management in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and especially in Peshawar and the Kalash Valleys has become more important.

Maureen Lines and some of the Trustees have long term on­-the-ground experience of these issues. The risk levels are regularly monitored and acted on by Maureen, where necessary with advice from the trustees.  Security guards are needed in property in Peshawar and often in the Kalash Valleys, and security during travel by road between Peshawar and Chitral is assessed before and during each trip. Flights between Peshawar and Chitral are also sometimes used because they are sometimes safer than travel by road.

As in previous years, the trustees have continued to have due regard to the guidance on public benefit published by the Charity Commission. So we feel that we are providing the support that Maureen Lines needs to continue to develop HKCA’s work for the Kalasha, their environment, and their unique way of life. Now over to Maureen for her detailed and much more interesting account of up-to-date developments.

Peter Meadows, Chairman

Maureen Lines writes:

Dear Friends,

I have been overwhelmed by the generosity of HKCA supporters in contributing almost £2000 towards my recent operation and rehabilitation costs. I was at the end of my tether not knowing which way to turn to pay for an operation which I knew I simply had to have done. In the end I decided to say nothing, face up to the operation and hope everything would turn out for the best. Well thanks to all of you who contributed it has and I hope by the time you receive this you will have received a snail mail letter of thanks from me. Mail from Pakistan is notoriously unreliable (a cheque I sent to my old vet in the UK recently never arrived) so please forgive me if you have not heard.

The operation went well and within a week I was largely out of pain. Then began the obligatory physiotherapy which has gone well and whilst I’m not yet able to throw away my crutches I am able to get around, get into the car etc and even more important am getting back my old ‘get up and go’ spirit which the continuous back pain had begun to knock out of me.

So what has been happening here since I last wrote? Leaving out bombs exploding just around the corner and our need to take on an extra security guard, quite a lot.

THE SCHOOL IN BIRIR 

Pakistan has suddenly woken up to the fact that its health and education systems need over hauling and that more money must be spent on developing these sectors.  Ghost schools and truant teachers must be a thing of the past.

Recently, the famous public school in Chitral, started by six bright dedicated young women from the UK, subsequently taken over by the American linguist, Elena Bashir, and then by the famous army major who ‘stayed on’ after Partion – Major Langlands, has seen yet another dedicated person, again from the UK, Carey Schofield, taking the helm.

The school is dedicated to quality education for all.  That is what we are working for in Birir.

There was more to come. As you all know my plan was for High School Classrooms as a follow on to the middle school. I had not appreciated that the Middle school only took boys so education of girls ceased at the end of Primary School. The villagers came and asked if our new classroom which was then nearing completion could be used exclusively for girls so they could enter the middle school. You can imagine how delighted I was and 12 girls are now enrolled. It is thanks to Heather Madine that the classroom could be finally completed and equipped with desks, benches and two computers.

All this makes our plan for a second classroom even more important but this will cost money that we don’t at present have. We have costed it out in detail and it comes to £5980 (the detail is available on request) at the current rate of exchange plus 12 desks and chairs at £15  per student and two more computers at £250 each.

UPDATE ON OTHER MATTERS

It is thanks to Neil Kreitman, our perennial generous donor that we have managed to keep three dispensaries running (the others have been taken over by the Pakistan Red Crescent) and most of our patient programme.  Last year saw a number of serious patients; some needing operations down in Peshawar. So all in all we are doing well. As usual, though, we do need your help! I am eager to return to Birir and have received the other day my new Pakistan Origin Card. My lawyer is hoping to have my NOC (non objection certificate) to return to Birir within the next day or two.

And, lastly, I have already purchased a few text books which are excellently produced. Although I have to keep to the books which have been set, there is nothing stopping me from adding from another book.  Yes, if you are wondering, I am planning to do some teaching myself! We are also introducing such basic things as keeping registers.  I also have a wonderful hand bell and the right person to use it to announce the beginning of school early in the morning.  Discipline, with a little TLC is essential to learning.  Gul Akthar and her four children whom I have adopted know this already and their English has improved dramatically.  We want the same for all the pupils.

Please continue to help us…..

Maureen

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