PEAKS OF EXCELLENCE

The Walk to the Base Camp of K2

The Thalassaemia Society of Pakistan is a torchbearer in the lives of Thalassaemic patients. It is a streak of hope for the ailing souls of young children who are doomed forever to pain and suffering.

The Society's aim is to create awareness and consciousness about this inherited disorder. Thalassaemic children often feel that they are incapable of performing daily activities like normal children, let alone the strenuous activities. This singular misconception in their minds was replaced by self-confidence by one inspirational idea of the Society. The children, who have the strength to face such bitter anguish in life with smiling faces, can accomplish anything! The challenge was to walk to the base camp of the second highest mountain in the World K2.

The idea was a head turner from the very beginning. How can children who are already anaemic and incapacitated, surmount such a great obstacle? Its true that people sit up and listen to the most crazy ideas - the challenge was well supported by the Thalassaemia International Federation and took a final shape.

So, with the guidance and support of the Society, five Thalassaemics took it up themselves to accomplish this Herculean task. They, along with their parents and with the help of the Society began the arduous toil of preparing for the walk. The walk to the Base Camp of K2 took a better part of a month but the preparation took nearly a year. The enthusiasm of these children renowned our faith in the power of conviction. They blissfully underwent constant physical training, stress tests and regular monitoring to confirm their endurance for the physical conditions at the base camp of the "Second highest mountain in the World".

The goal of this test of endurance was to spread awareness about Thalassaemia, but the most important message these children wanted to give to the world was "IF WE ARE LOOKED AFTER PROPERLY, WE CAN DO ANYTHING IN THE WORLD!"

These courageous children eloquently expressed their heartfelt emotions and gave the world a golden chance to be a part of their lives. From here, a new chapter of infinite hope and conviction begins. The tedious journey started with generating funds for the walk, training the participants, a 10 day trek and final culmination at the base of the mighty K2, which stood to honour the dedication of our little soldiers.

These Thalassaemic children, began their journey by road on July 2, 2001. After two days, they reached the highest desert region in the world, the valley of Skardu. The children and other participants, stayed in Skardu for a week, walking every single day so that they could become acclimatized to the thin air.

Finally the 10th of July dawned upon this group of 32 people, who set off for Thungal by jeep. Where they camped for the night. On the 11th of July the group started walking for the next destination which was Korfung.

 

The first day walk lasted for 12 hours for these children, every step was exhausting and required great conviction and motivation for the noble cause. One of the toughest terrains in the world lay unfathomed and the miles ahead were tormenting. Beautiful landscape turned into a real life drama as these children traveled with their full perseverance. Perils were numerous but the hopes soared higher. Many a time the Society members were intimidated by the intensity of the perils that lay ahead but faced it skillfully and bravely. Gushing, ice cold waters roared below bridges made of wooden logs. A treacherous path ascended into the mountains and onto the glacier; the air grew thinner and breathing was laboured energy levels were sapped but hopes never shattered. Watching these children toil for their sick friends was heartwarming.

The world watched in amazement as the walk continued unabated to Jula, Paiyo, Khobrste, Urdukas, Gore 1 & finally Concordia. The Walk came to an end at the base camp of K2 on the 19th of July. Exhausted children, their parents and volunteers rejoiced at their achievement. Emotions soared high. Tears of happiness rolled down cheeks. They had set new standards of courage and endurance. They had proved to the world that though ailments weaken bodies, souls are immortal and can reach any height if there is the will to do so. We are sure you have enjoyed this beautiful experience of our brave soldiers. Our world is definitely more complete and perfect with the dedication and courage shown by these children.

 

Our venture was not possible without the help of our generous sponsors. They have illuminated the lives of Thalassaemics with their cooperation and assistance. We express our heartfelt gratitude to our friends at: Bank Alfalah, Lipton Yellow Label, World Call, Hang Ten, Servis Shoes, Punjab Horticulture Society, CDL Foods, McDonalds, Salt 'N Pepper, Rafhan Best Foods, Nirala Sweets, Seasons Canola & Punjab Horticulture Authority.

We are especially indebted to Align Technology. With their gracious help, our courageous team of heroes came home safely and comfortably by helicopter. All our beneficial sponsors made our journey to the base camp of K2 more than a mere dream and Align Technology completed it with the perfection and grace such an endevour deserved.

We would also like to thank Millennium Tours for organizing the walk for us and for all the support and help they have provided.

 

Last but not least we extend our thanks to our friends from the UK, Mr. Gerald Mason, Dr. Robert Mueller, Ms. Irna Qureshi, Ms. Gulshan Karbani & Dr. Tasleem Tariq for contributing very generous donations to the society. .

We especially thank Mr. Mason, Dr. Mueller and Ms. Qureshi for also participating in the walk. We thank them all from the bottom of our hearts