March 17 marks the first death anniversary of legendary social worker, author, photographer and environmentalist Maureen Lines (Tamgha-i-Imtiaz) who was also a known authority on Kalasha culture.
She passed away in Peshawar last year, aged 79, and was buried in the Gora Qabristan.
Born in North London in 1937, travel was almost an addiction for Maureen Lines who lived in Paris, New York, Beirut, and Greece before making Kalash Valleys her home in 1980.
Her travels have included North Africa, Spain, Egypt, the West Bank, Afghanistan, Yemen, India and Western China. Ms Lines learned the language of the Kalasha and lived amongst them for decades.
She was concerned about preserving their culture and environment and was involved with a number of medical and education projects. She undertook annual visits to UK where she raised funds for the welfare of Kalasha community.
In early 1990s, the second Hindu Kush Cultural Conference was held in Chitral. Although it was well attended, only one speaker mentioned the environmental problems of the area. She begged the locals and officials to resist deforestation. “If the forests disappear, the Kalash too will follow,” she would often say.
Through her writings she attempted to sensitise readers about the Kalasha and clear up prevailing misinformation.
She did not want the Kalasha to be treated like zoo exhibits at the hands of irresponsible hordes of tourists that did not understand or respect their social norms.
Partnering with Hindu Kush Conservation Association (HKCA) UK, the Maureen Lines Foundation (MLF) has recently been formed by her friends and supporters in Pakistan to continue her legacy.
MLF is mandated to work in the fields of education, primary health care, conservation of environment and cultural heritage, eco-tourism, youth and women empowerment, livelihoods and disaster management.
Published in Dawn, March 17th, 2018