Oct 23, 2007

Nanga Parbat – Hike to raise awareness of thalassemia

Nanga Parbat – Hike to raise awareness of thalassemia

The United Arab Emirates Thalassemia Society and Pakistani Thalassemia Society joined hands in an effort to increase awareness of this blood disorder which occurs most frequently in people of Italian, Greek, Middle Eastern, Southern Asian and African ancestry. About 100 000 babies worldwide are born with severe forms of thalassemia each year.
Last year, the awareness campaign included an organised trek to Nanga Parbat, in Islamabad Pakistan. The Aga Khan Scouts and Guides of United Arab Emirates, participated and raised funds for this cause. Nanga Parbat is also known as the "Killer Mountain" since it is an extremely serious and challenging climb. Nanga Parbat is part of the Himalayas and the ninth highest mountain on earth that rises to 8 125 metres (26 657 ft.).
A group of nine scouts and guides registered for the trek and undertook basic training courses which included hiking, running and other cardiovascular exercises to build stamina. In addition, the scouts and guides also did some compass training. The team joined other individuals from Lahore, USA and the UK, who also supported this endeavour. This larger group included individuals, who suffer from thalassemia.
The adventure started in Islamabad as an 18-hour road trip to the base of Nanga Parbat. The climbers then made a five-hour trek to “Fairy Meadows” which is on the north side of the mountain. This meadow offers majestic views of Nanga Parbat and is named thus because of local superstition that fairies live in this forested meadow. There are some huts and access to water and the team spent four days here with the north face of the mountain looming above them. During this stay at Fairy Meadows, they participated in team building exercises and engaged in various games including cricket. Interestingly, one of those days marked the wedding anniversary of a couple from the US who were part of the trek. To celebrate and share the joy, the guides prepared garlands from the fresh flowers and presented it to the couple amidst drum-playing, evoking a magical feel in the meadow.
The group also made a day trip to the next base camp at the height of 3 600 metres above sea level called “Beyal Camp” which offered even more breathtaking views of the mountain.
The trek raised awareness of this disorder within the community and gave the youth from Dubai an opportunity to interact with other communities for a common cause. All the participants were impressed by the discipline and camaraderie exhibited by the scouts and guides. The youth understood the value of giving not only of financial donations but also of time. More importantly, the trek highlighted the unity of mankind which included caring for the sick, sharing with the needy, friendship and love. By organising the trek to one of the world’s most striking peaks, the United Arab Emirates and Pakistani Thalassemia Societies raised funds for the various services that they provide (including promoting awareness of thalassemia) and made an indelible mark on the lives of the Aga Khan Scouts and Guides of UAE.

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