IKCA’s Pakistan Challengers: Seeking Adventure Off the Beaten Track

Kilimanjaro, Everest Base Camp, K2 –these are the usual destinations that come to mind when we think of overseas trekking challenges. But what do you do when your intrepid volunteers have covered them all and then some? You seek new terrain.

This August, Team IKCA became pioneers of brave new worlds, in their effort to trek through Gilgi-Baltistan, to the base of Nanga Parbat, A.K.A Killer Mountain. Our mission was two-fold: To bring hope of life to the thousands of poor cancer patients who seek medical aid at Shaukat Khanum Hospitals every year; To put this criminally under-rated region in the heart of Northern Pakistan on the map for charity challengers of the future.

IKCA’s Pakistan Challenge marks the 25thYear Anniversary of the first ever Shaukat Khanum Hospital, inaugurated in Lahore on December 29 1994. It reminds us again that this charity was established with the determination to achieve what was never-before attempted. And with your help, and the will of Allah (swt), achieve it we did!

“We are really pleased to have been able to complete the challenge in Pakistan this year,” said Ikhlaq Ahmed, Manager at IKCA UK. “We wanted the world to see that Pakistan is a place where charity thrives and meets in literally breath-taking locations. We want the world to see that Pakistan is a land that is rich in natural beauty and the generosity and hospitality of its people are second to none.”

“We wanted the world to see that Pakistan is a place where charity thrives and meets in literally breath-taking locations.”

The Pakistan Challenge Team comprised of 26 men and women from across the UK. Our youngest trekker was only 14 years old, while our oldest, and putting everyone to shame, was 72! The 10-day trip saw them blazing a trail through Fairy Meadows and along the base of Nanga Parbat, then hiking to Rush Lake –the highest alpine lake in Pakistan- and eventually to Rush Peak, a mountain standing at an altitude of 5,098m, in the Karakoram mountain range.

“This trek was a challenge for all of us,” said one of our team members, Halima Nawaz from Leeds. “We were camping in the wilderness the whole time, and the night we spent beside Rush Lake was the coldest. Contending with the harsh elements, glacier walking –we faced many challenges. To overcome them we reminded ourselves daily, in our morning prayers, of our purpose: that we are here by choice and that we are blessed with health. None of the struggles we faced compare with those who people who need cancer treatment but cannot afford it.”

“None of the struggles we faced compare with those who people who need cancer treatment but cannot afford it.”

Last year Halima also participated in the IKCA Everest Base Camp Challenge, as part of the team that raised a record-breaking £60,000. A further £61,000 was raised by her fellow participants, Nasreen and Sajjad Khan, who returned home from EBC to organise a spectacular fundraising event in Leicester for IKCA.

“As a British born Pakistani, I am so proud to have my roots in a country that has someone as inspiring as Imran Khan as its leader – someone who has devoted his entire life to public service,” continued Halima. “Politics aside; we all need to do our part in supporting the philanthropic path he has paved for us. As a nation, we are only as strong as our weakest link. We must uplift and support those in need, and Shaukat Khanum hospitals are a source of hope for the weak. I hope that more and more people become advocates of this cause in raising awareness and much needed funds to ensure its longevity.”

After completing the trek successfully, the Pakistan challenge headed to Lahore, where they were hosted at the hospital and got to meet staff and patients. Each one of them got to see first-hand the life-saving work their efforts support. Having spent half a year training for the challenge, on one the hand, and raising their target sum, on the other, it was a moving experience for all involved, to say the least. One of our female trekkers, Aliya Darr from Bradford, had baked as many as 2,000 cupcakes for the cause, over Ramadan. She raised over £13,000 on her own, through cupcake sales and other means. Her efforts, and the efforts of all her team members went to show that every little goes a long way indeed.

“We look forward to arranging more trips for overseas Pakistanis in the years to come,” said Ikhlaq Ahmed. “I hope that our inaugural challenge in Pakistan will be a source of inspiration for many more supporters to come forward and join us on future treks.”

IKCA would like to thank Hussain Balti, leader of K2 Treks and Tours Pakistan, who led the U.K. team to Nanga Parbat Base Camp. Hussain said It has been a privilege and honour, leading the U.K. team in this charity challenge.

If you are interested in outdoor treks and want to get involved drop us an email at info@ikca.org.uk.Imran Khan Cancer Appeal has a lot in store for 2020 and we hope you will join us for our upcoming challenges!

Support IKCA’s Urgent Appeal

Last year at Shaukat Khanum Hospital, we were able to provide free cancer treatment to 75% of our patients through your donations. Many of them were children who were saved through sponsorship. Find out More

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