2014 - December

Trip to Machulo

A group of people from the Foundation flew to Machulo the past month of September in order to carry out several objectives.

In the first place, the need tomaintain direct contact with our counterpart, the FIFBM, at least once a year and reinforce relations with its members and also the possibility of analysing and evaluating the projects on site in such a way that we have been able to capture many different sensations derived from them, have encouraged the people to keep moving forward, have listened to them and have given them our support on all these problems they have to tackle.

Secondly, the convenience of relaying a message of calm concerning the situation of the Foundation in the North, once the governance of the Foundation is redirected and the budgets are readjusted so that the institution and the economy will return to normal. We have likewise proceeded to do the evaluation and closing of the projects from the Vocational Centre in July 2014 and those of agriculture in December 2014.

And finally,to get a more precise and detailed look at the evolution of the eight schools. We have, in fact, obtained through visits to the eight centres, teachers’ meetings and parents’ associations, very valuable information on its pedagogical evolution, areas for improvement, teachers’ qualification, deficiencies in infrastructures and pedagogical material as well as information on payment systems and their deficiencies, advances in equality concerning pupils, teachers, and pending tasks, its cost structure, its financing systems.

We have noticed that it is precisely through the organization of the schools that people from all towns in the valley are taking part in different organization movements with different degrees of involvement, particularly active in Saling and Hushe. Such participation was originally aimed at obtaining resources and improving infrastructures but may well have a wider scope.

In general, the situation of the eight schools supported by our counterpart has improved quite positively in the past two years.

We have learned that:

  • The total number of pupils amounts to 916, out of which 489 are girls (53,4%) and 427, boys (46,6%).
  • For the 2014 academic year, our objective was to school 350 girls and as previously stated, we have surpassed it by 139 girls.
  • Bearing in mind this situation, the number of teachers has also become noticeably higher.
  • For this course, there will be 21 female and 2 male teachers in the eight schools.
  • In two of the schools, the number of female teachers is higher than that of male teachers, in another two the situation is equal,
  • Except for the lack of data from one town, the non-schooling level has radically dropped in the past few years, in 2014 the average is a18%, which means that boys and girls are closer to being even.
  • Likewise, teachers’ qualifications have really improved; three years ago, just 20% could have a level higher than FA or FSC (the most elementary in secondary education) while nowadays, over 50% of the teachers hold bachelors’ and masters’ degrees

We have also learned that some thirty groups of women (over a 100 of them in all) from the valley have had access to micro-loans, mainly for financing the production cycle in agriculture. These loans might eventually involve larger investments in machinery, which will add higher value to the production process.

Therefore, a great opportunity for community development in the Valley and also for the FIFBM’s leadership in this advancement process is opening up. For that purpose, we have put forward to our counterpart the advisability of sharing the governance of the Foundation to the most active people in other towns of the Valley, in so doing, the presence of women on the Board will be guaranteed. This process has already started, as the board has 12 new members, out of which five are women (42%).

Likewise, we have agreed to elaborate a Strategic Plan for the next five years of the FIFBM from this new participative platform. This will go hand in hand with a comprehensive training programme for the teachers, the person responsible for the education project and the leader of the Foundation.

During a joint visit to PDCM, The University of the Agha Khan Foundation, we requested a proposal that would handle all of these tasks and also launch a new plan for the empowerment of women in the valley and the identification of key people for its development.

We also contacted three organizations with which we agreed to carry out different kinds of collaborations: exchange information on action plans that would allow us to search for stable financing channels for our projects in the valley with the Fund for the decrease of poverty in Pakistan (PPAF), write out a report on the lack of schooling with UNICEF-Pakistan, and lastly, search for financing for the introduction of peach driers with no energy consumption with a microfinancing bank from the Agha Khan Foundation.

We have made two other new contacts with:

  • Two people from the valley, both government high-qualified teachers, who have spent years promoting an education centre for deaf-dumb children in Skardu. We are assessing the possibility of sending over 10 boys/girls from the valley to take part in special studies.
  • A midwife in Khapulu who is willing to train the future Lady Health Visitors (LHV) in Machulo and other places in the valley. This measure is aimed at providing more women with the necessary skills for pregnancy follow-ups, and therefore improving birth conditions as far as possible.
  • The doctor in Skardu Hospital, Mr. Mushafad, who has made a commitment to teach health courses in schools and in the Vocational Centres in the valley (VTC).

Photography exhibition

In the Baltistan Foundation we also work in the North, attempting to bring the realities of Baltistan and Pakistan closer to our society.

We believe that it is necessary to better the slanted and biased view that the media offers on this country and its people. And we want to vindicate and show the situation of the people of Baltistan, a culture and a community that has been forgotten not only by the central government of Pakistan, but also by the international community.

In order to do that, we once again refer to the critical eye of Ibon Azpilikueta, who shows through his photography the life and will to progress personally and with the community, of the women of the Hushe Valley.

The exhibition of his photography 'Women of the Hushe Valley' is part of two important events related to mountaineering: Mountaineering Week in Getxo (November) and the Bilbao Mountaineering Film Festival (December). Thanks to the sensitivity of the promoters of both events, we have been able to include said exhibition within the framework of the activities of the programs.

It is possible to see the complete Exhibition from 10 December to 6 January in Sala Rekalde in Bilbao.

Gift voucher campaign

And with this exhibition, the gift voucher campaign for this year begins again.

On our trip we have been able to verify the impact of the 50€ on the schooling of girls in the Hushe Valley. As you know, this is the amount that it costs to send one boy or girl to study at one of our schools, and we use the money collected from the gift vouchers to pay for the total cost of schooling the girls, which we were able to verify on our last visit.

Thanks to the gift vouchers and the grants that we have given them to go to college, nowadays there are more girls than boys, and more women than menteaching in our schools.

Come on and sign up for your gift voucher. Also participate in our own solidarity chain by sharing the gift voucher campaign with your friends.

Give a gift voucher for Christmas!