Updated: Dec 7th, 2005
RI paramedic Chad is shown here loading our rented jingle truck (this is what trucks look like around here) with the component pieces of an @quot;Alaska Tent@quot; structure. These tents were used in a few places by RI as clinics and storage, etc. This one was on its way to a tent camp called Dharyal, about half way to Battagram, where RI provided basic medical attention.
Along the Karakoram Highway, a pile of supplies (UN related?) off the side of the road. Also a helicopter landing site, etc.
We had lots of help unloading the Alaska Tents from the truck at the Dharyal tent camp.. The pieces had to be carried across what are usually rice paddies to the clinic area, and the kids were excited to help.
On the way to the Battagram tent camp. Tents such as this one on the rood of a shop are scattered all over the general earthquake-affected area. This one is probably either in the family or being hosted, but in signifcant numbers they are called "spontaneous settlements" (as opposed to the formally-planned camps), and their general quality and future are subjects of much concern.
A view of Hilkot from the northern reach of the village. Besides the obvious destruction, remember that all the other buildings you see are uninhabitable and severely damaged also. Note the tents.
Chann Bibi (on L) is a widow in the village of Hilkot. Her husband Redhigul died about a year ago. A household of 10, including 4 children. She is one of the first recipients of the structures that RI is building in Hilkot.
Fiaz Mohammed has an extended household of 25. A skilled builder, Fiaz has assembled the first of RI's structures in the village with a crew inclduding locals and RI staff. Fiaz lost his wife in the earthquake. He is pictured here with his son, first at the site of his house and then in front of the completed structure (he will be building himself a fancier window than was offered.)
Mohammed Anwar: Household of 7, inclduding 2 children. His tiny site is located between a collapsed building and a graveyard. He provided the wood for his site and it was milled with help from locals. RI provided the corrugated galvanized iron (CGI) sheeting, tools, and the design.
Pervez Khan: Household of 5, no children. 11 members of his family died in the earthquake.
A man from the village and Steven from RI talking about the program while at their feet lay a couple leaves, harbingers of the coming winter. (Winter has since arrived.)
It's hard as newcomers to imagine the village that existed here before we arrived. Areas like this have been cleaned up and organized compared to their condition immediately after the earthquake, and they still look like a bomb has gone off. In the visible area here the living spaces of perhaps 5 or 6 families existed. The pathway on the right is made of compressed dirt from what used to be the roofs and walls, and it hides underneath it spaces that used to be rooms in houses; occasionally a little hole through the dirt offers a view into some filled-in cave of a collapsed house.
Steven from RI and others meet with the Hilkot community to begin the arduous process of determing the best use of the limited resources...
Steven from RI and a local figuring out the construction process together.
Having tea, as usual. From left to right, Sajid, local guy extraordinaire, Salahudin (sp), local villager helping a lot in the process, Greg, the designer of the structure RI uses in this village, an unknown person, and Baidar, another local resident/helpful person.
A home-grown structural frame by Faizal Rahim (one of the recipients of the first structures -- he is responsible for a large family) that was soon after covered with wood planks and CGI roofing, likely to be slathered in mud as well. This is for temporary winter shelter from the elements.
Faizal Rahim's tool bucket.
A flat by the stream in the middle of town serves as the only place for prayer. The local Iman, Qari Haleem (also one of the recipients of one of the first structures RI built) says that most people don't have the time to pray after the earthquake, but he wishes they did so they could avoid further wrath from God.
Typical shot of a collapsed house. The roofs are thick but they aren't as thick as this one appears: this roof is actually at ground level at the back of this room, as the house is built on a slope. Note however the traditional roof construction of cross-stacked wood covered with pine boughs and mud.
These are the infamous heavy stones that claimed so many lives in the earthquake.
These guys were levering up the frame of the half-destroyed house in order to add support beams and nails to keep it standing.
The bridge on the way into Malkan and Hilkot recently deteriorated... the truck carrying RI supplies had to race across to minimize the time spent on it. It remains to be seen how this holds up in the winter rain, snow, and freezing/thawing...
One of the two or three local mosques. The tower with speakers, used for the azaan (singing call to prayer), is seen teetering to the side, but standing.
It's too easy to take pictures like this. This was a mud/wood/stone house; a variety that very frequently collapsed.
Niaz Mohammed stands next to the house that collapsed and claimed the life of his father Hadar. Niaz is one of the first recipients of an RI structure in Hilkot. He and his two younger brothers are building the structure themselves and looking after their 5 family members (including two children.)
Most people in Hilkot at least have tents to stay in, although it's understood that they will not last the winter (already two have gone up in flames and one collapsed under 2 inches of wet snow.) This family had no tent when this picture was taken, though I believe they got one or two later. Significant discrepancy of lifestyle still exists after the earthquake, despite a moderate equalizing effect.
Either an oak or walnut tree. A reminder that it's a beautiful place.
Livestock are crucial to the livelihoods of the local people. This beautiful creature (with amazing eyes) is more valuable to a Pakistani sharecropper than a rich-nation resident could imagine. One household had a crude A-frame structure with a tent for themselves and a blanket-covered frame almost equal in complexity for their animal (I think it was a donkey, but I could only see its nose.) There are rumors (unconfirmed) of people in the higher elevations building shelters for their animals before their own family.
A few residents of the village.
Greg (in the hat) and Sajid (in the other hat) getting the roof together. This is the Greg-style dwelling that RI is providing the village. Simple, temporary, cheap, and reusable. Insulation is being developed for the design as well.
The gender lines are drawn hard around here, obviously, and the special challenges faced by women (especially widows and orphans) are dramatic. It's rare that a man can get a picture of a woman without taking it secretly (which isn't all that ethical anyway). If I spoke Urdu and had different chromosomes I'm sure I'd be party to a huge story I can't even begin to understand here. I'm afraid to even attempt to describe my observations for fear of exposing total ignorance, but maybe I'll try some time.
Asessing some sites... On this long day Steven and our team approached every home site in the village (over 200) to get an idea of their situation.
At the mill, unloading salvaged timbers from home sites to be milled into useable lumber for the construction process. In the background is reportedly a school where 200 children died.
Photo by Greg Zallar
Who needs machines? This guy could apparently carry anything.
Another house, another story, another set of challenges.
The snow has already visited Hilkot a few times this winter, and the average snow line is creeping down the valley.
Photo by Shuhrat Abdulloev
Everyone is helping out.
This otherwise happy child cries every time he sees a white person.