Kanak Mani Dixit’s 1,800-kilometre-long journey to spread awareness on spinal cord injuries may not have achieved all its goals in entirety, but he is nevertheless satisfied.
The Nepalese journalist and his wife aimed to collect $110,000 (or $100 per mile) for the Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Centre in Nepal to expand its capacity from 38 beds to 51. They collected about $55,000, but money is only half the story.
“We visited the institutions engaged in spinal cord injuries in these cities during our journey,” said Dixit, adding that Pakistan should join the Asian Spinal Cord Network (ASCoN). “I want to see ASCoN’s third annual meeting being held in Pakistan,” he remarked.
He also stressed on the need of cooperation between institutions in South Asia. “Transportation of injured people is a problem in South Asia and there is a tendency among Asian countries to treat patients without care, which often results in dire consequences,” he added.
About their journey, Dixit said that they started travelling on the Grand Trunk (GT) Road from Agra. “It is so exciting to see that there are two countries but the road is the same,” he said, adding that the journey on GT Road was like a pilgrimage to South Asian history.
He also emphasised on the need to soften borders between Pakistan and India so that the citizens can easily explore the region’s history, which would help towards bringing peace between the two countries.
“Being a Nepalese I was able to make this journey without any difficulty, but it is not possible for Pakistanis and Indians to travel freely like this,” he said.
The Nepalese journalist and founder of SIRC, Nepal Kanak Mani Dixit, and his team including his wife Shanti Dixit were given a warm welcome by the staff members and patients of Paraplegic Centre in Peshawar upon their arrival on Wednesday.
“Concluding the journey at a sister institution has given a great end to our journey,” said Dixit.
The journey commenced on November 4 from Kathmandu, from where the couple travelled through Lucknow, Agra, New Delhi and Amritsar in India before crossing over to Pakistan via the Wagah-Atari border. After visiting Mayo Hospital in Lahore, they headed to the AF Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine in Rawalpindi, after which they reached Peshawar on Wednesday.
Paraplegic Centre Chief Executive Muhammad Ilyas told the gathering that the centre, the first of its kind in South Asia, was established in 1984 for the Afghan war victims.
“The average age of our patients stands at 26 and 90% of them live below the poverty line. Each patient remains in the centre for around three months and we have treated 700 patients so far,” explained Ilyas.
He said that the number of spinal cord injuries have increased dramatically over the past few years due to terrorists’ activities, adding that almost one-third of the cases can be avoided through awareness.
He also said that they wanted to upgrade the centre to a state-of-art unit comprising 100 beds.
The couple will leave back for Nepal on Thursday.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 17th, 2011.
More in KP & FATACensorship: Locals seek an end to ‘indecent material’ on cable TV