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Soldiers of good fortune
After 40 days in earthquake-ravaged Pakistan, Canada's DART team is leaving behind a grateful populace
There is a Kashmiri saying that every labored step up a mountainside is an investment in the future. Sometime during the 40 days Canada's Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) spent providing emergency relief to Kashmir's earthquake victims, after a massive earthquake on Oct. 8 reduced much of the region's cities, towns and villages to rubble, some of that Kashmiri wisdom must have rubbed off. With their time winding down last week, one might have expected the 216 DART soldiers to be looking ahead to comfort, to hot showers and a real bed, to hockey and basketball and a cold beer in front of a warm fire. Instead, engineers were inspecting water projects even as their bus back to civilization was warming up. And at a base camp in Garhi Dupatta (30 km north of Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani-held Kashmir), already stripped down to little more than a patch of mud, one last mobile medical team (MMT) was preparing to board a helicopter to Dhunna Kacheeli, a remote village 20 minutes away that had yet to see any aid. "It's the locals who've inspired us," one medic told me as he rumbled out to the helipad in an army truck. "They are an incredible people. It's been an honor to serve them."
Canada's DART is coming home after what its commanding officer described as the "most challenging mission"...

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