For more than 2500 years, the Wakhi people have inhabited the Wakhan Corridor in Afghanistan. Ethnic Wakhi speakers have a total population of about 50,000 to 58,000 and can be found in Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Pakistan and China. However, about 10,000 of them still live year-around at the Western end of the Corridor in Afghanistan. They call themselves ‘Wakhik of Kheek’ and speak the Wakhi language, a dialect of Persian.
The Whakis have a different concept of village than we know. They live as a household, usually with the whole family: mother, father, grandparents, kid’s, aunts, uncles and cousins. It helps to keep the houses, built of stone and mud with a flat roofing of mud and grass, warm during the harsh winters, where the temperatures can drop below 40 degrees. The Wakhi food is very specific. It consists of salty tea, made from yaki milk and butter, bread, malida (a dessert made from bread crumbs), meat, chicken with apricot oil, chicken soup, yaki yoghurt and cream.
Wakhi children attend schools that can be found in almost every village. School starts at the end of March. The kids usually wake up to the crowning of the rooster around 4:30 am or 5:00 am, since there are no alarms, clocks or watches in the Wakhi homes.
Most of the Wakhis are farmers who migrate to the Pamir Mountains at the end of spring for their animals to graze. They look for a temporary shelter until winter approaches. They live a peaceful life up the valleys, tending their goats, cheeps and yaks.
But with a temperature below freezing, unfortunately even a minor flu can kill. A child birth often means the loss of a beloved one. That’s why the government puts effort in trying to connect Wakhan to the rest of the Badakhshan Province by road.