Pakistanis living in the remote northern mountains of Kashmir were trapped without food, water, or shelter after a devastating 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck in October 2005. The quake killed more than 100,000 people, injured 138,000 and displaced 3.5 million people from their homes as a brutal winter loomed. Much of Kashmir’s infrastructure was destroyed, and the disaster severed lines of communication to the outside world while crippling much-needed services. The region was furthered destabilized by threats of violence from terrorists affiliated with the Taliban. Anti-American sentiments in Kashmir further complicated relief efforts, and the United States government warned U.S. citizens to stay away from Pakistan.
Despite the warnings, Richard Hotes led a group of Hotes Foundation volunteers to Kashmir on three occasions. In Azad Kashmir, volunteers built 1,200 permanent houses, 33 schools and two hospitals. The team also distributed 300 goats to families in the devastated region. Knowing how precarious the situation was for the people living in Azad Kashmir, Richard challenged other business leaders to ‘adopt a mountain’ on which people in the territory lived, saying, ‘It is going to take the whole world to save them.’ Kashmir was the Hotes Foundation’s first major international mission. The efforts of Richard and his team drew the attention of then-U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Ryan Crocker, who applauded the group’s work.
For more information on this mission or to learn how to volunteer with the Hotes Foundation, please call (425) 889-5917 or complete our online form.