Karakuram Kindness

by Cheryl Carruth

Once in 1992, when Erik [Cheryl’s husband] and I went hiking in Gojal in the north of Pakistan, we underestimated the size of the Karakorum mountains and found ourselves dangerously dehydrated and suffering from sunburn. Our lips cracked and our minds played tricks. We looked for help but found no one. We were scared and lost, and after some time we began to despair.

To our great relief, a village woman came upon us and guided us to the home of a local English-speaking schoolmaster in Husseini. Without saying a word, she guided us across the footbridge and held our hands as we stumbled up the steep bank to his home. The schoolmaster and his family kindly took us in and attended to us for many hours. As we sipped his tea and ate his bread, we gradually returned to health and good spirits. Soon, we were talking and laughing and sharing stories. I watched as his beautiful young daughters peaked at us from behind the kitchen curtain, and giggled with them when I caught them looking! The schoolmaster shared the wonderful philosophies of the Aga Khan. We listened, shared our own observations, and debated politics and social norms. When finally we were well enough to return to our lodgings several miles away in Passu, the family arranged for our safe transport.

I have never forgotten that act of kindness, and the many other acts of generosity we experienced on our two memorable trips to northern Pakistan. Husseini was not the only time the people of this region helped us out of a difficult situation, yet it was the first, and remains my most vivid memory of the quality of the people of Gojal and Gilgit-Balitistan.

The January 4th landslide that blocked the river has left 25,000 people cut off from their neighbors. For all I know, that schoolmaster’s home could be submerged under the newly formed lake now. It is for this reason that I must act.

Editor’s note: For information of the readers let me state that Cheryl has a great role in bringing the Attabad disaster to the global media. The reports published by Associated Press and Reuters were made possible by Cheryl’s efforts. [Nur]

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  1. thanks Cheryl for dessiminating the natural disaster news with global medai and reflecting your experience about visit to those isolated but friendly people.

    It was people like Erik, Cheryl and yourself who used to visit those mountainsin the past and that individual expenditure ( on food, traval,and stay ) of tourists used to compliment family incomes in the mountain society up in the Karakarums.
    But we could see no more tourist in those areas,despite having absolutly good security situation in that part of the country.

    I would request those people who have visited those isloated parts of the world and have positive views about people and thier experience to encourage others to visit the area and enjoy the natural environment as well as learn about the people,its cultural and mountain farming systems.

    Thanks Nur for sharing this note.


  2. I must say thaks to the traviller who did not forget the memorable moment of the difficult days
    Keep it up wakhi peoples



  3. We are thankful to Erik and Cheryl Carruth has brought the catastrophe situation on global media, we gratitude their remembrance and sympathy for the Gojal people.

  4. i must take the oppurtunity and say thanks to the international turists who have visited our area in past and specially for thier intrest and concern in hard time they have shared thier good experience with people of gojal it makes our moral high i must say that areas and people are same as you saw them few years back but with the passage of time and situation in pakistan we have losed our international turists the people like you and many more more friends can be valueable for us if they promote turisem in our areas and play the role of EMBASSDOR for us..
    hope every thing will be fine for you in years ahead and take care my friend…

    Didar Karim Bari
    Senior Professional Development facilitator
    MIED Chakwal

  5. So kind act of you too Cheryl. We would like to thanks for your effort in bringing this disaster in International media. It is not that much easy to do. Your love will remain in the heart of Gojalis.

  6. So kind act of you too Cheryl and Erik. We would like to thanks for your effort in bringing this disaster in International media. It is not that much easy to do. Your love will remain in the heart of Gojalis.

  7. Thanks Carruth for remembering and returning the good to us…… People do remember good experiences but few return it….. and you are one among the few…..thank you so much
    We miss the rourists from ur part of the world who were really so good to us….. I remember my childhood when we used to talk to them, want to bring them to our houses, make pictures with them ….. it was so fun… I pray that they return to our sweet home and keep it blossomed with their smiles….

  8. The people of Gojal thanks you for highlighting the issue of Aatabad disaster on the international media and hope so the global powers will pressurize the inefficient Pakistani government for doing of something of real worth.

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