If you're lucky, it will only take you two days from Herat to reach the World Vision field office in Char Taq, the capital of Jawand district, Badghis Province. One day of jolting over rutted, muddy or snow and ice-covered roads to reach Qala-I-Now safely before dark ...and another day to reach Char Taq, prayerfully crossing thousand-foot gorges on roads a few meters wider than your truck. You'll make it provided no overturned lorry or victim of impassable roads blocks the narrow thoroughfare and forces you to turn back and try again the next day.
Once you reach Char Taq, you trade your vehicle for hiking boots. There are no roads, only donkey paths, up the mountain to the high plateau where World Vision is working. Plan to hike a half a day to reach Nalbast, the closest village, and about five days to reach the farthest village.
This is a journey that has become routine for World Vision Afghanistan staff. It's a tough trip, but don't take pity. It's a tough life for the plateau people. Many here face sub-zero temperatures without so much as a blanket to keep their children warm. The walls of their tiny mud huts are often the only barrier between them and strong winds, ice and snow. When winter arrives in earnest, in a few weeks, the donkey paths that are their lifeline to Char Taq will become treacherous and many times impassable -- one further degree of isolation for some of the most isolated people on earth.
World Vision Afghanistan is prepositioning 10 kits of free emergency medicines to treat communicable diseases throughout the district, before snow and ice make the already difficult trip from base impossible. Each medical kit contains enough medicine to treat 10,000 people for three months. Kits will be positioned in centrally located communities on the plateau and distributed to villages by village organisations recently formed by World Vision. Teams are also distributing 12,000 woollen blankets to 6,000 households.
"We hope taking these steps now will keep people from leaving their villages looking for assistance in the coming months," says Graham Strong, World Vision Afghanistan Operations Director. "This would create a big humanitarian emergency. Plus it would disrupt the local harvest -- which is so critically needed -- because displaced families won't be able to work their fields.
"When these people have what they need at home, they will stay at home. And God willing, we can avoid another tragic situation like we've seen too many times here in the past."
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