Travellers to the magical region of Ladakh in Northern India will know of the spectacular Himalayan scenery, the monasteries with their colourful frescoes and prayer flags fluttering in the breeze and the gracious hospitality of people – many from Tibetan origins. Tragically, this area has also been swamped by the torrential monsoon rains that are flooding Pakistan.
Our friend Anshu Gupta, from The Intrepid Foundation partner organisation GOONJ writes: “I visited Ladakh shortly after this disaster and the area is certainly devastated – financially, geographically and more importantly psychologically. Imagine a place known for dry mountains and mud houses, where people had never seen rain water in the lanes. All they had seen was the melted water from the glaciers in the nearby Indus River.
In comparison to other disasters the number of people affected might sound less, but in a population of only around 20,000, 200 recovered dead people, 500 more missing, hundreds of houses totally crumbled, and the heavy damage to crops, cattle and property is a huge loss. Many families have been wiped out completely and some of the dead are still under the 6 – 7 feet of mud, which suddenly entered their homes as they were sleeping.
Like in many past disasters, GOONJ will be working through local people/partners and will be focusing on neglected areas. The prime concern is the upcoming winter. In winter the temperature of Leh goes down to -20 degrees centigrade and due to a lack of homes it’s now going to be a miserable time for locals. There is also a bigger question of food security as the affected people have lost the stocks they created to use in the 6 months of harsh winters.”
There are specific requirements that GOONJ will be gathering to distribute in Ladakh – dry rations, basic medicines, woollen clothing and blankets, tarpaulins, cloth for sanitary needs, cooking equipment, school materials, lanterns and candles. Most of these items will be gathered in Delhi or purchased in northern cities. The biggest need is funds for these items and their transportation. If you can help, please donate via The Intrepid Foundation and Intrepid Travel will match your donation* dollar for dollar!
* up to AU$5,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year.
* photo by Michele Alexander – Intrepid Photography Competition