Intolerance and ignorance are very much linked to each other. By
establishing a library and a computer centre we give the people of Chitral an
access to information they couldn't even dream about before. In the school
we try to cultivate investigating, critical and creative minds. Like this
we lay the foundation for a better understanding of and more tolerance between
quite different cultures.
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We, Wendy and Jürgen, are two young Belgians who, after graduation from
university, wanted to leave for abroad to live there in accordance to our
Back in 1996 it wasn't feasible to do this via the official (red tape) way,
so we left on our own, independently, for the East, intending to find ourselves
a place in one project or another.
After having hitched and hiked through Turkey and Iran, we landed in
Pakistan, a country of which we never heard any good before, a situation which
surely hasn't changed for the better recently!
Nevertheless we were received with open arms by the people, who exhibited a
hospitality, friendliness and cheerfulness long lost in Western countries.
So we decided to delay our continuing journey to India for a while, and first to
visit the 'roof of the world'. A visit which still hasn't come to an end!
In November 1996 we were halted in Booni,
where we were requested to start teaching in a community school (Booni is
situated 10km Northeast of Kosht). Initially we
worked one year for this school.
In March 1997 we established a small library, with a starting capital of
roughly €1000. The uniqueness of our library system consists of the fact
that all managing responsibilities have been given to the students. All
tasks are distributed amongst three teams of students from the three highest
classes, thanks to which the two oldest teams are able to train the new team and
as such the knowledge to maintain the library is passed on from one generation
to the next. There are several reasons which explain the need for this
In June 1999 our efforts were acknowledged by the Finnish embassy, Islamabad,
and thanks to their support of €4000 the library was substantially expanded.
The library still functions, and this has produced some remarkable results: some
students already have a broader knowledge than their teachers, and some others
dare to question the still existing feudal power structure! Our old
students keep on visiting us, and this gives us the greatest satisfaction.
In August 2000 the preparatory work for the establishment of Ibn Batuta
Community School Kosht was started. Kosht
is part of a predominantly Sunni valley, while Booni is part of a predominantly
Ismaeli valley. The Ismaelis are helped abundantly by AKF, a big NGO with
large financial means, while the Sunnis usually miss out on their aid. Of
course they are at least partly to be blamed themselves for this, since in
general they are quite unwilling to accept modernization in general or
interference from outside in their affairs in particular (but is this last
attitude not prevalent in all societies?).
Nevertheless sufficient activists are there who want to escape the circle of
poverty and ignorance, and who desire more freedom in movement and expression
(men and women). To give these people a chance, we complied with their
request and moved house to Kosht.
Our stay in Belgium at the end of 2000 was used to collect the funds required
to start up this new project. Many people as well as some
service clubs have helped us with gifts small and
On the 15th of March, 2001, our new school started. Immediately we were
facing strong opposition from 2 parties: the religious conservatives and a
businessman. About this you can find the details in our
More info about our project in Kosht you will
find elsewhere on our site.
Don't forget to check the News and media page for the
most recent information.