When the Covid crisis hit the area full-on, stopping the normal stream of trekkers and climbers passing through the area, Ali, the headmaster of Askole School, contacted The Juniper Trust to inform us that the people of Askole were facing a far greater crisis than simply finding money to educate their children – they were starving! “We need food!” With no time to waste, The Juniper Trust immediately put on hold a plan to buy winter jackets for the school children. Instead they sent £1,500 to allow a team of volunteers, led by Ayub Khan, to deliver a month’s supply of basic food ingredients – two jeep loads of flour, rice, dahl, sugar, tea and soap – to the 40 worst-off families in Askole. No mean feat in the winter conditions.
Each food parcel cost just £30 including the delivery costs, subsidised by local suppliers keen to help. Choosing the families to help was the most difficult part as there were many more who were deserving. The distribution was done carefully and fairly by the village elders.
The villagers were overwhelmed with gratitude, and word soon spread, prompting two more villages in the remote Valley of Hushe to ask for help too. Despite limited funds, the Juniper Trust decided to be ambitious and sent a further £2,500 to deliver 100 food parcels, 50 each to the villages of Khande and Hushe.