VOLUNTEERS from Hyndburn are out in earthquake-hit Kashmir, handing out aid and searching for possible sites for the construction of a 100-house village.
Five volunteers flew to the region on Bonfire Night armed with tents and blankets to begin phase one of an Accrington-led plan to build a small town for 100 families left homeless after the October earthquake.
Proposals for the town, which will be named Hyndburn Village, include a primary school, a medical centre and a place of worship.
The volunteers transported 1,200 blankets and 100 familysized tents, which can each accommodate up to 12 people, out to the region and have begun sourcing winter clothes from within Pakistan to give to the families using the tents.
On arrival, Mr Jawid Hussain, Mr Jamil Hussain, Mr Ikram Ul-Haq, Mr Nadeem Hussain and Mr Shakoor Zahoor, who travelled at their own expense, were met by 15 other volunteers who assisted them in buying food supplies sufficient for 100 families for six months.
Mr Sardar Ali, chairman of the Blackburn Road Mosque, said: "We have had one e-mail back from the group. They are getting on fine and have been busy distributing the tents. They have been looking at possible sites for a village but we will not know any more until their return."
The project relies on the co-operation of the Pakistani government, which has helped identify families most in need of the tents and food with the view that these same families will hopefully form the new Hyndburn community.
During this first stage, a project management committee will be set up in Pakistan to oversee the village's development, hopefully elected by potential residents.
Construction is expected to begin in February after the harsh winter weather gripping Kashmir has passed, allowing building to commence under the instruction of local architects and contractors.
The cost of stage one, which incorporates the aid distribution and the practicalities of finding a site in Azad Kashmir, is expected to be about £20,000, with the cost of the village construction estimated to be £350,000.
A committee made up of members of the Raza and Ghousia Jamia Masjid Mosque, Accrington, Hyndburn United Muslims and Hyndburn Council is managing the delivery of the project which relies primarily on the generosity of the people of Hyndburn.
So far, Raza and Ghousia Masjid has raised over £300,000 in co-operation with various organisations including the New Era Centre and Asda Accrington.