May 18, 2019
Patoulis1 are strong, independent mountain dwellers, easily walking for a day to spend time with friends. Until recently, their rough mountainous region had no vehicular access, but working hard (with lots of dynamite!) the people are making a level way through the valleys connecting needy people, for the first time, to markets and much needed health services.
Their isolation has caused Patoulis to become self-sacrificing in their hospitality. With neither shops nor guesthouses, private homes provide a welcome resting place for weary travellers on dangerous mountain paths. They serve hard corn bread dipped in red beans or yoghurt ball soup and no matter how many guests, they say, “God will provide.”
The Patoulis are only about 300 000 people living in Central Asia, made up of about five ethnic groups and speaking different languages. Known for straight-talking, honesty and practical jokes, their lives are plagued by conflict, religious laws, violence, sickness and death. Many Patoulis leave their mountain due to fear of family revenge killings, lack of food or a desire to educate their children. Islamic extremism is also bringing conflict and widespread fear.
Fatima, a Patouli lady suffering many of these challenges explains, “I can cope with the terrible pain but not knowing what is wrong or whether I will ever get better leaves me feeling so hopeless.” Until now, none have found hope in Christ.
1 For the protection of workers in this area, this name is a pseudonym.
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