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By David Smith
Special to The SUN
Earlier this year, Rotary Club of Pagosa Springs, in cooperation with The Rotary Foundation, provided Pakistan Relief with a new Toyota Hilux pickup. This truck will be equipped for use as a mobile medical unit in remote areas of Pakistan, including the Gurais Valley, Pagosa’s sister community in Pakistan.
The first mission of the pickup was to help set up a computer center in Peochar, a remote village in the Swat Valley. Intense fighting occurred in this village as the Pakistan Army pushed Taliban out of the Swat Valley in 2009. The computer center instructor/manager, Gohar, was paralyzed from the waist down by injuries he suffered during the conflict. He was one of several handicapped students trained in Islamabad at a center funded by Pagosans. The vehicle was recently used to install two more computer centers in the Gurais Valley.
The next mission for the pickup will be part of a post-disaster relief program in Jaffarabad, a rural area in southwest Pakistan. Flooding in 2010, 2011, and 2012 left 3.5 million displaced persons in this region. Pakistan Relief will be working with the German organization, Lands Aid, to provide medical services to 15,000 families over the next eight months. Pakistan Relief staff will use the pickup to assess specific needs in remote areas and to transport doctors and patients through these areas.
Mujtaba Imran, President of Pakistan Relief, recently said, “In the past, we remained dependent on small cars which would not go through the sand and mud common to rural areas of Pakistan. Now, we have been given a gift of a Toyota 4×4 pickup which will help us travelling in all types of terrain rather easily. The mobile medical unit will enhance both quality and quantity of our efforts for those in need. Thank you Rotary Pagosa and all Rotarians.”
Although this project started with the Rotary Club of Pagosa Springs, additional funding was provided by nine other Rotary clubs, including one in Ireland, Rotary District 5470 and The Rotary Foundation. The mission of The Rotary Foundation is to enable Rotarians to advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace through the improvement of health, the support of education and the alleviation of poverty.