Romanian mountaineer pays one-year salary of school teachers in remote village of GB
By Tanveer Ahmed
Gilgit (TP) January 31, 2021: Prominent Romanian mountaineer and environmentalist Alex Gavan has paid a one-year salary of teachers in a remote village school in Shigar district of Gilgit-Baltistan.
On social media while referring to his first visit to the school in 2007, when he and his other mountaineering companions first arrived at the Askoli village for an expedition, Alex says that the car stopped there and when they got out of the car, dozens of children, who were barefoot, half naked with running nose, ran towards them happily to welcomed them. He says that it was very unexpected and strange for him. “The children were asking us for a pen, not chocolate or money. “mister pen, mister pen.” Then I realized that these children were asking us for a pen to write. It was unusual for me and those were moments of emotion and humbleness for me. The place seemed to be the last one in the world where someone was asking you for these things,” he says.
“It’s a place where the houses are half-buried into the ground and there are no glasses on the windows of the houses. The women were working in the fields and when they see a stranger, according to local custom they covered their faces. The income of the men of this village depends on the portering of expedition parties while there are apricot trees everywhere. Alex says when I close my eyes and think of Baltistan, I see apricots.”
He adds that in December 2020, he reached Askoli village again for mountaineering. So far, he has climbed three of the 8,000-meter-high mountains in the Karakoram mountain ranges, of which only K2 remains to be ascent.
Alex says that this time around, he met with the principal of the school Muhammad Ali who is a good friend of him and got information about the school and found out that the number of children in the school from primary to class 9 was now 312 who are coming from Askoli village and from four other villages. The school has a total of 9 teachers, of them 4 teachers are paid by the government. One teacher’s salary is paid through a community welfare fund, one is paid by an NGO while three teachers are paid by parents of the students. Alex writes that since there was no expedition in 2020 due to the global epidemic (coronavirus) and the parents of the children did not have the money to pay the teachers. All the three teachers, due to being local, agreed to work voluntarily.
“Knowing this situation, I made up my mind to do something about it and decided to pay 12 months salary to the volunteer teachers from my Alex Gavan Foundation including Khadija Fatima, Muhammad Iqbal and Qurban Ali. That I did and now from the new academic year March 2021, these three teachers will be paid a full year’s salary through the Alex Gavan Foundation, which has already been provided.”
Alex Gavan was attempting to summit the world’s second highest peak K2 in winters along with Tamara Lunger, but due to inclement weather, he had to called off his journey and returned back recently.
Pictures Courtesy Alex Gavan Social media pages.