Role of volunteer organization in the development of Shimshal

By Ghulam Mussa Shimshali

A socio-economic survey conducted in GB makes it evident that there is no community based health center existing in Gojal valley. However, community based schools are operated by some local community organizations.

It refers to institutional instability, lack of struggle for common development and trend of individualism. Existence and stability of institution in an area is the key to development that provides a platform for community to take-off. Institutional development is conditioned to some indicators such as improved technical capacity, improved financial capacity, relevancy and validity etc, which are said to be indispensable for effectiveness and efficient performance of any development institutions. For this process highly technical staff/volunteers and other resources are required, which are not scarce but hard to find out and manage.

Shimshal has been cut off-from rest of the world for centuries that had restricted people to depend on subsistence agriculture and livestock. Education, health and other basic facilities could not be easily accessed due to 12 days treacherous journey to reach KKH. With the passage of time community volunteers devoted their time, resources and even life  for development of the area and constructed pony tracks, Foot Bridge and rest house (local huts for the travelers).  Strive for development through volunteerism made access to education possible for the children, as infrastructure communication was developed on self-help bases. That was a starting point for the masses of shimshal to access basic education by moving in the lower Gojal and Hunza but it was still a challenging Job. Students from Shimshal had to cross shimshal river at 39 places and passing through dangerous rocky and land sliding mountain areas to travel in the down countries. Accepting the challenge, many individuals did complete their education and having executive positions now a day.

The process of travelling by foot on the dangerous shimshal rout to the down countries remained continued up to 2004 but finally on 25th October 2004 a narrow jeep able road was completed with the tireless effort of government of Pakistan, AKRSP and community. Completion of the road provided

Road access

opportunities for the inhabitants to easily access health and education facilities but it was not possible for the entire population to travel in the down countries dued to feeble economic position. By sorting out solution for this problem the community and specifically educated segment of the community reached on a point to strengthen their existing local volunteer institutions and establish new organization.

The first step toward institutionalization was taken by establishing Shimshal Nature Trust (SNT) by the dedicated educated youth with the help and supervision of a Canadian professor Dr. David Butz (a philanthropist, who has been working for development of Shimshal community for last two decades and has a great contribution in the field of conservation, education, tourism development and many other areas) and support of the community. The purpose of this trust was maximum utilization of existing natural resources for betterment of the community. This organization has played a vital role in the development of the area. The prime achievement of SNT is to start community based hunting programme in the area, which is a major source of income for the community. Moreover, SNT has greater contribution in the field of education and research programmes for students and school teacher.

To cope up with the problems, covering all sectors was not possible for a single institution because carrying out multi-prong activities had led progress of SNT toward decline. The community activists realized need of another institution, specifically

Focusing health and education sector, in 2004 another organization, namely Nawbahar Educational welfare and development organization (NEWDO) was formed supported by Germen friends, who have been visiting shimshal for last several years. Initially NEWDO worked on education, constructed a school building and putted it on running to meet the immediate need of the area. The school is the first English medium and only secondary school in the valley. Professional teachers from down countries were hired to ensure quality of education and another project in terms of teachers’ hostel, computer lab, teaching materials and training facilities was started in 2007 and completed in the same year.


Naubahar school

Completion of Nawabahar Secondary School provided a chance for the poor rural children to access quality education on very low cost. Students, who could not continuo their education after passing 8th class due to huge expenses in the cities are now studying in the school( some are paying minimal fee and some are studying free of cost).

In the recent year, another innovative project was started by NAWDO through establishment of ECD (Early Childhood development) Center in the village. For this purpose a building costing more then 4 million Rupees was constructed and fully equipped with ECD materials. Through this programme 0-3 and 3-8 years of ECD education will be provided to the poor and deserving student. To carry out this programme successfully, willma (a Germen philanthropist), Yasmin Karim( a development Specialist belonging to Shimshal), Late Bakhtawar Shah( first president of NAWDO) and Haji Ghulam Karim a social activist played vital role.

One of the volunteers Mr. Amjad Karim, whose contribution can not be ignored by the masses of shimshal has been an integral part of this organization since the time of his college life. Amjad has been working in the development process of establishing NAWDO and devoted his time and knowledge for the betterment of the marginalized community. After completion of his education he has been recently appointed as managing director of the organization, keeping in view his tireless efforts for establishment and putting the school on the way to progress. His service is admired my the whole community of Shimshal and he is known as a role model for the young generation, who has taught the young generation that how the young generation can play a vital role in the development of their area.

Another project related to health was started in 2007, costing about 95000 Euro, which is currently under construction. This will be the first community health center constructed by the community itself ever in Gojal. The community led health center will be fully equipped with medical facilities. Three nurses have been already trained to serve in the health center and further staff will be inducted and trained as per need.  In the desired health center, all minor diseases will be dealt free of cost, while currently, for such minor diseases people spend a lot of money by travelling to Hunza. After starting of the health center, the community members will be able to save the money that they spend on traveling to Hunza. The most common problem is delivery cases, because women travel from shimshal to Hunza through the dangerous jumpy road. Such cases will also be handled in the desired health center that would be helpful for women of the area to easily access health facilities and avoid long journeys.

This project is a team work led by volunteers Aliza, Hosth and Hushi from Germany representatives of the project in Germany, Asad Karim( tourist Guide and social worker), Ashraf Karim(NGO employee and project coordinator) from Shimshal.

Shimshal trust is another organization based in Newziland initiated by the volunteer teachers from Newziland, who have given their services in shimshal a few years before. This organization provides the students and teachers from shimshal with scholarship nationally as well internationally. This project is led by Pamela Hanson(Newziland) and Lenat from England. Utilizing the

The future of Shimshal

scholarships from Shimshal Trust, many students have been helped in their studies and teachers have been trained in the renowned universities of Pakistan as well as in Newziland.

The developmental work in Shimshal is evident that our communities have the guts to improve their socio-economic condition without depending on the government and NGOs but it needs courage, realization of our responsibilities in our respective societies and enthusiasm to work voluntarily.

Related Articles


  1. The development work done and undertaken by the Volunteers of Shimshal is marvellous and we hope it continues with the time.What i have analysed is that the people of Shimshal are devoted to their homeland and to its development and they are encashing every opportunity they find.we welcome all the the good initiatives taken by the people of Shimshal.
    In addition to the above i would suggest them to keep the following things in mind:

    1. Always make the organizations property of the public/Village.
    2. Transprancy in working and finance should be upheld to retain the trust of people.
    3. Try to share your expertise with other villages as well
    4. Launch projects with the complete consent of public.
    Sher khan Rawalpindi

  2. Yam. we really appreciate the works which our volunteers have done for the people of shimshal.Special thanks to Mussa bai for encouraging such great volunteers.

  3. A marvelous voluntary services is done by the youth of Shimshal for their village and villagers, in spreading the light of education and providing the basic health care to them. Health and Education are for sure the two basic elements for the sustainablity of development for that area.There is also a strong and persistent association between education and health. Improving education mechanisms has better impacts on health and policy for development. Having a strong inner association with that mountainious valley I would also request you to always retain the trust of your community because you work for them. Always addressing “We” for your organizational services will strengthen your aims as well your services.For sure I agree Sher Khan’s comments about transparency in your services and especially in financing will keep you more much succesful and sustained. Once again marverlous services by the youth of Shimshal for their area and village.Thank you!

  4. Dear Mussa, thank you so much for this nice write-up. If I am not mistaken this is your first ever article on Pamir Times. Please keep writing and share your experiences same like this. I totally agree with your point that social philanthropy is very successful in Shimshal. No doubt, self help played a key role in the development of this mountainous area. It is really a matter of pride for the people of Shimshal that young generation are taking keen interest in the development of their area. It is obvious that together we can make a difference. Our ancestors have maintained the rich culture and tradition alive and it is now up to the young generation that how they follow their footsteps for brining peace and prosperity in their area.

    The initiatives taken by Mr. Bakhtawar Shah for bringing educational change in Shimshal are praiseworthy. May almighty Allah bless the departed soul with an eternal peace. Mr. Asad Karim is another young energetic man who is working on provision of health facilities in Shimshal valley. Inshah Allah the construction of health centre will complete in 2011 and it will be a New Year gift for the people of Shimshal.

    To sum up I must say room is always there for improvement and we must concentrate on human and institutional capacity building in years ahead.

Back to top button