Kalash women at a bashaleni. — Dawn
Kalash women at a bashaleni. — Dawn

CHITRAL: A local support organisation working in Kalash valleys has expressed its satisfaction over the improvement of bashalenis (maternity homes), saying it is leading to reduction in mortality rate among women and newborns.

Ayun and Valleys Development Programme (AVDP) held a meeting here the other day to discuss the health and hygiene in the Kalash valleys. The programme chairman Rahmat Elahi presided over the meeting, which was attended by its members.

It was noted that bashalenis in the valleys had been converted into safe places for the women where they passed their menstruation and pregnancy days.

It was stated that in Kalash society the bashaleni played an important role in the lives of womenfolk who passed five to seven days in a month and 65 to 90 days in a year there as their stay in homes during the menstruation and maternity days was strictly a taboo.

They appreciated the role of Aga Khan Rural Support Programme for launching its project by which the seven bashalenis (maternity homes) in all the three valleyswere revamped and refurbished with relevant facilities while giving special attention to hygiene.

In a specially prepared report read out on the occasion about the condition of bashalenis, itwas stated that the bashaleni of Krakal, Batrik, Broon and Anizh villages in Bumburate, Groom village bashaleni in Rumbur and that of Guru and Bishar villages in Birir valley were provided with furniture, crockery, birthing space and hygiene kits apart from endowment funds to carry out the activities by the community members.

The report said that earlier hygiene conditions in these facilities were very poor which would cause diseases among the women, while they would face problems during pregnancy days.

It said that trained birth attendants, medicines and delivery kits had been provided in each bashaleni coupled with other facilities for safe delivery.

It said that all this was now playing a pivotal role in reducing mortality rate among Kalasha mother and newborns.

Rahmat Elahi said that strengthening of the institution of bashaleni in the Kalash society was getting due priority by AVDP.

Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2021

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