Pakistan flood story #7: After dramatic bridge collapse, villagers construct ingenious chairlift

In the isolated village of Besham in the Swat valley, there's only a bridge to connect this community of 60,000 to the outside world.

And in minutes, flood waters swept it away.

This drastic moment was captured by a local resident on his cellphone camera:

The first thing that hits you is the sheer beauty of the region, and the incredibly clear air. However, up-close there is enormous destruction.

Completely cut-off, the people of Besham had lost most of their belongings and were fast running out of life essentials.

So the community built themselves a hand-pulled chairlift across the river, using what materials they had on-hand.

Precariously balanced over the rapid-flowing water, it's their only access to main roads and supplies.

YPO Pakistan (a chapter of the international Young Presidents Organization) joined the relief work. Two of it's members, Ali Jameel and Farrukh Khan met with a local organization, the Omar Asghar Khan Development Foundation (OAKDF) and together have begun laying the foundation for a larger, motorized emergency chairlift.

Local leaders know well what assistance they need. Their hand-drawn map shows all the bridges and road that the flood waters destroyed.

In fact, all the bridges in the entire area have been washed away, as well as the road running parallel to the river. A journey to market that used to take 30 minutes now takes upwards of eight hours. The community is creating a pedestrian path along the river where the old road was. But they still need more chairlifts and temporary bridges.

Farrukh reports that they saw no other NGOs or government relief worker during their visit. There is enormous resolve among the local people to help themselves, yet there's only such much they can do alone.

The community is extremely appreciative of the fact that people from far away are thinking of them and willing to help.

Adapted from a report via Farrukh H. Khan

More news from YPO Pakistan here >>

More news from Omar Asghar Khan Development Foundation here >>

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(posted by Jane Wulf)