Transcript of "Central Asia Institute | Spring 2011 Report"
OH • 1 Children of Qumrah village in northern Pakistan at the site of a new CAI primary school. Asalaam-Alaikum. Back in the U.S., CAI has reinforced its commitment to As CAI’s board chairman, it is an honor to bring to collaboration with other Pakistan-focused NGOs, includingyou this special springtime supplement of Journey of Hope. DIL (Developments in Literacy), HDF (Human DevelopmentI recently returned from an extended visit to Pakistan and Foundation), TCF (The Citizens Foundation), Zindagi Trust,Singapore to visit CAI projects and staff, and also help AKDF (Agha Khan Development Foundation) and The Edhicoordinate new teacher-training programs. Foundation. Our hope is that CAI will have more opportunities While in Pakistan, I had an incredible time drinking to hold joint symposiums and other events to help increasemany cups of dudh patti (sweet milk tea) and kehwa (green cultural tolerance and awareness of Islamic values in the Unitedtea) with local CAI staff. While there, we discussed the States and elsewhere in the Western world.establishment of a new Pakistan-based registered trust that To address the recent media allegations, CAI is gatheringwould be CAI’s collaborative arm in Pakistan, completely relevant facts from our field managers in Pakistan andrun by local staff. Ultimately, when this trust is put in place, it Afghanistan to provide more comprehensive reporting. Gregwould mark the realization of Greg Mortenson’s dream to have Mortenson is receiving many requests for interviews withlocal people in charge of their own destiny. international media outlets. Armed with a healthy heart, he In Singapore, I spent time visiting with Farheen Mukri, will give those interviews after his impending surgery. Hiswho will bring her team to Pakistan and Afghanistan this year prognosis is excellent.to help with our teacher-training programs. Farheen, whose In the meantime, the CAI Board members and staff arefather is a retired Pakistani ship captain, is a leader in the field happy to answer all questions to assure our donors that thereof international NGO leadership training, especially teacher has been absolutely no financial misappropriation and thattraining. She has traveled extensively in Southwest Asia on her CAI has never swerved from its mission to educate the poorestown, sleeping on earthen floors, riding on the tops of buses of the poor, the underserved people, especially girls, in remotewith chickens and hiking up mountain trails into remote regions of Central Asia where no one else dares to work.villages. Most of all, shukria (thank you) for your tremendous Farheen told me she especially admires CAI for its focus support, ongoing generosity, prayers and belief that togetheron working directly with local communities and using local we will create peace through education.staff. “When development work is put in the hands of locals, Please enjoy this springtime Journey of Hope. We welcomeit sometimes takes longer, and mistakes happen, but the end your feedback.results are far more enduring and sustainable,” she said. CAI is –Abdul Jabbarexcited to have Farheen on our team. CAI Board chairman
2 • OH Students at Al-Abid Community School in Skardu, in northern Pakistan, gather in the schoolyard to receive new school supplies from CAI staff. S pring is a season of renewal and hope. In that spirit, this special spring edition of Central Asia Institute’s Journey of Hope publication is an effort to bring readers up to date on what is happening with the organization, and offer inspiration and reassurance amid the recent spate of criticism and doubt. • Details are being finalized for CAI to build a female teachers-training college in Muzaffarabad, the capital city of Azad Kashmir. The original structure was destroyed in the massive 2005 earthquake and students are currently studying in tents without restrooms. The new building will accommodate at least 200 students CAI holds fast to its belief that after construction is completed this educating children in Pakistan and year. The government provided the Afghanistan – giving them a sense earthquake-proof design. CAI staff of a bigger world and their place in it, is working with the Azad Kashmir and nurturing their dreams of a better government on this project, as well as future – ultimately benefits us all. The a seven-member school management organization, its domestic and overseas committee. staff and its Board of Directors remain • Also in Muzaffarabad, CAI particularly dedicated to addressing is expanding its girls’ scholarship the complex issues of educating girls, program (see page 2). and to inspiring and facilitating that • Plans are taking shape for complex cultural transition, especially construction of at least 60 new schools in remote areas. across Afghanistan in 2011. However, in the wake of • New schools are being unprecedented criticism, one dedicated in May in Afghanistan’s supporter recently remarked, Panjshir and Badakhshan provinces. “We believe that an element of Principal Aziz Ullah walks in front of the new girls’ high • A new initiative to build three disorganization might be present in school CAI is building in Maiden Shahr, Afghanistan. schools in remote, southeastern the administrative aspects of CAI, Tajikistan has been successfully which would be not at all surprising launched (see page 3). given the chaotic nature of life in the regions CAI serves. We feel Meanwhile, Greg Mortenson, CAI’s cofounder and executive that the best path forward is to take these allegations seriously, to director, is scheduled to undergo a surgical heart procedure in May undergo thorough, objective and public self-assessment, and to to fix a hole between the right and left atria, a condition known as welcome the outside scrutiny.” atrial septic defect. This condition has led to chronic low oxygen We agree. CAI remains dedicated to being as transparent and levels, or hypoxia. As per doctor’s orders, he is confined to bed rest accountable as possible and to providing as much information as at home with supplemental oxygen to prepare for the surgery. His possible in a timely fashion. Ultimately, we want our supporters to post-surgery recovery is anticipated to take weeks, if not months, know that the money they have given is being used for its intended depending on how long he agrees to sit still. purpose. Spring is always a busy season for CAI. Schools are in session, So, as the snow melts and trees begin to bud in the remote construction is under way and villages that have been cut off through areas where CAI works overseas and in Montana, where CAI has its the winter are accessible again. And although the spring of 2011 headquarters, work continues unabated. Here are a few highlights of has delivered considerable challenges for CAI, the organization CAI’s projects this spring: continues to be motivated by belief in a better future – and hope. = S TO R Y B Y K A R I N R O N N O W I P H OTO G R A P H Y B Y E L L E N J A S KO L
OH • 3CAl expandsscholarshipsfor Kashmiri girlsWdrive a car. ith the help of Central Asia Institute, Fozia Naseer became the first person from her village in Azad Kashmir ever to travel to the United States, become a lawyer and learn to Now she wants to return the favor and help other Kashmiri girlscontinue their education beyond high school. This spring, in her new position as women’s development andscholarship director, the determined 28-year-old is setting up CAI’snew girls’ scholarship program in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-controlled Kashmir. “I believe in CAI’s work. I know how important education is forgirls,” she said in a phone interview. With the help of her family, Naseer graduated from high school andearned a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in politicalscience. When CAI began workingin Azad Kashmir after the 2005earthquake, she received a scholarship “It is really importantto help her finish her last two years oflaw school in Muzaffarabad, followed for all girls of Pakistanby another scholarship for two years of to get a chance for anpost-graduate work at Montana State education and I am soUniversity in the United States. “I was fortunate and had CAI excited to be part ofscholarships for four years,” she said. that.” CAI scholarship student, Bushra, 14, does her homework at“I want, and CAI wants, more girls to - Fozia Naseer a girls’ hostel in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, where she lives withbe so lucky and have a chance to be other CAI scholarship students. The program allows girlseducated and powerful.” from rural areas to continue their education at a level higher Six Kashmiri girls already participate in CAI’s scholarship program than that offered in their village.in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. They live in a hostel and attend classes in thecity’s high school and colleges. But shifting those girls to Muzaffarabad and expanding theprogram to accommodate more Kashmiri students will simplify logisticsand alleviate some of the anxiety inherent in educating girls far from Central Asia Institutehome. PO Box 7209 “We already have a scholarship program, but it was not local,” she Bozeman, MT 59771said. “The girls are happy about this change. Their families are happy, 406.585.7841too, because now the girls can stay near their homes and, culturally, it isimportant for girls to be near their families.” www.ikat.org Muzaffarabad is a conservative city of an estimated 750,000 peopleat the confluence of the Jhelum and Neelum rivers, 138 kilometers from Central Asia InstituteRawalpindi and Islamabad. The city was at the epicenter of the devastating Oct. 8, 2005, empowers communities ofearthquake that killed approximately 80,000 people in Pakistan- Central Asia through literacycontrolled Kashmir. More than 50 percent of the buildings in and education, especially forMuzaffarabad were destroyed in the quake, which measured 7.6 on the girls, promotes peace throughRichter scale, and reconstruction has been agonizingly slow. education, and conveys the importance of these Naseer has met with representatives from the high school and activities globally. Since 1996, CAI has establisheduniversity in Muzaffarabad to discuss the girls’ enrollment. She is also or significantly supported over 170 schools inlooking for a house to convert into a hostel and a small staff to run it. Pakistan and Afghanistan. CAI is a registered “The best part of the program is that it shows what good work CAI 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, federal IRS EINis doing in this area and reinforces the people’s belief in that good work,” #51-0376237.she said. “It is really important for all girls of Pakistan to get a chance foran education and I am so excited to be part of that. I believe in CAI’s good Sign up for CAI’s email newsletter, “Alima,” at hwork and I will work hard to make a difference in every way I can.” = www.ikat.org/alima S TO R Y B Y K A R I N R O N N O W I P H OTO G R A P H Y B Y E L L E N J A S KO L
4 • OH CAl expands into Tajikistan “No treasure is gotten without hard work.” -Tajik proverb S TO R Y B Y K A R I N R O N N O W I P H OTO G R A P H Y B Y E L L E N J A S KO L lkat T hree years of negotiations and countless cups of tea have resulted in a plan for permission for new schools in very remote areas of eastern Tajikistan,” Khan said in a phone interview. “Now we can start.” j j Central Asia Institute to establish three Mortenson said, “The promise made In the remote mountainous areas schools this summer in the mountainous to Jean Hoerni many years ago has now of southeastern Tajikistan some of southeastern corner of Tajikistan. come to fruition. This is incredible news. the women still wear traditional CAI’s first 15 years were spent This is a historic moment for CAI.” clothing made of ikat, a fabric of promoting education in Pakistan and The schools will all be located in individually dyed strands of silk Afghanistan, but expanding into Central an area known as the GBAO, or the woven together into a tapestry of Asia was the long-term vision of the Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast, colors. The name of CAI’s website is organization’s co-founder, Jean Hoerni, an autonomous province in the Pamir www.ikat.org. according to CAI Executive Director Mountains of eastern Tajikistan. The area Greg Mortenson. Hoerni, a Swiss covers 45% of Tajikistan’s land, but has physicist, and Mortenson cofounded the only 3% of the population, according to nonprofit organization in 1996. Tajik government statistics. “Before his death from leukemia “The schools’ locations were picked in early 1997, Dr. Hoerni asked me in conjunction with the ministry of to promise that someday we would education, who gave Sarfraz a list of 187 establish a school in Tajikistan or villages in the GBAO it needed help Kyrgyzstan,” Mortenson said. “I with, but also through working with the promised him I would do that, but told communities,” Mortenson said. “The him it might take 10 or 20 years.” villages that will get schools were the ones In late April 2011, Sarfraz Khan, in the most remote areas that were able CAI’s “most-remote-area project to contribute free land, sweat equity and director,” called from Khorog, Tajikistan, resources.” to report that Tajik government officials, The three confirmed sites are: including Minister of Education • Sajmak, in extreme southeastern Abdujabbor Rahmonov, had given CAI’s Tajikistan, near the Afghan and China plan the green light. borders. “The Tajik minister of education • Lyangar, in southern Tajikistan, and also the minister of interior gave near Karl Marx peak (6,723 meters). • Vanj River Valley, on the southern side of the Darvaz Mountains in southcentral Tajikistan. All three are near the Tajik border with Afghanistan adjacent to Badakhshan Province, where CAI has dozens of schools. Mortenson’s philosophy has always been to set up schools in what he calls the “Last Best Places,” a term coined by Montana author William Kitteredge. Or, put another way, CAI “starts in the mountain-side and goes to the city-side,” as the staff often says. “We already have funds available, we’ve completed the registration process, and now we have the government permission and community support,” Mortenson said. “We will go very slowly, one cup of tea at a time. As Sarfraz told the minister from the very beginning, ‘CAI move much slow, but we are much strong.’ “Funds will be wired and, inshallah (Allah willing), CAI will have three new schools in Tajikistan this fall,” he said. = Sarfraz Kahn, front, CAI operations manager, inspects the new CAI school in Koran-wa- Monjan, Afghanistan, with village chief Mohammad Zakir, a teacher and project manager for the school’s construction.
OH • 5 A young woman reads aloud in a CAI literacy class conducted in a private home in Kabul. CAl’s Kabul centers engender hope amid sorrow, squalorO ne afternoon in Kabul, circles on the floor helping each other learn women said to me, ‘First please give our Afghanistan this past March, to read and write.” husbands some work. They feel shamed and members of Central Asia Hundreds of women gather for a dishonored that they cannot find work.’Institute’s in-country staff and their boss, few hours each day in CAI’s women’s “Most of these women long to returnGreg Mortenson, climbed a steep path centers for free lessons in reading, writing, to their villages and families. But for nowthrough a ramshackle neighborhood on the math, conversational English, Dari, they are fiercely passionate about learningcity’s south side. Arabic, hygiene, sanitation and nutrition, how to read and write. They told me going The dirt path wound through a vocational and life skills. The centers, set to the women’s center two hours a day giveshodgepodge of houses assembled with up in the relative safety of rented houses or them hope.”whatever materials were on hand – mud, teachers’ homes, cater to women of all ages, After talking with the women, thetin sheeting, old steel containers once from preteens to senior citizens. CAI team watched as the teacher, a proudused to transport military supplies. The The women at this particular center woman wearing a blue dress-coat andresidents, refugees of the decades of war were mostly refugees from northern holding a wooden stick in her right hand,across Afghanistan, face a daily struggle to Afghanistan, who fled the fierce fighting turned the students’ attention to the frontsurvive. Basic necessities – such as food, during the Taliban years and endured a of the makeshift classroom.water and firewood– are scarce. tortuous circuit of life in refugee camps “She then began teaching them how to The team’s destination was CAI’s Roya before winding up in Kabul. bargain in the marketplace, telling them theWomen’s Literacy Center, one of dozens of “Some of them are widows,” shopkeeper will always double the price andsuch places CAI has set up across the city to Mortenson said. “Some of them are caring then lower by a fourth, while they shouldteach women basic skills. for younger siblings in addition to their start low and go up,” Mortenson said. “We walked up the path until we own children, and many of them have six Women need such practicalreached a mud wall with a big green gate,” to 12 children. Many of their husbands instruction because throughout the yearsMortenson said. “We went inside, across are unemployed and spend most of their of war and Taliban oppression, they werethe dusty yard, and up six stairs into a mud time looking for jobs – in vain. A few of not allowed in public without a male escort.house. Once inside, we climbed another their husbands serve in the Afghan Army Men did all the shopping.set of stairs to a room, where the door was or police force, getting nominal pay, or But that, like so many facets of dailyopened to reveal 100 women seated in work as temporary day laborers. Several life in Afghanistan, is changing. S TO R Y B Y K A R I N R O N N O W I P H OTO G R A P H Y B Y E L L E N J A S KO L
6 • OH Photo courtesy Sarfraz Khan Greg Mortenson, second from the left in foreground, wraps up a visit to Gumran Girls’ School in Logar Province in March. He is accompanied by Janagha Jaheed, director of the Marco Polo Foundation, a local elder and Afghan Operations Manager Wakil Karimi. CAl’s Kabul hub painted on a wall overlooking the courtyard. Mortenson had several objectives on this spring trip to When Mortenson revisited what has become the hub of Afghanistan. One was to collect the financial documents needed CAI’s operations in central Afghanistan this spring, he noted for accounting purposes in the United States. “To coincide with significant changes in the neighborhood. It’s now crowded with the calendar in Pakistan and Afghanistan, refugees who have returned to Afghanistan CAI’s fiscal year runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. after spending years in refugee camps in 30. So generally, late winter or early spring Pakistan and Iran. is when we compile financial reports from But there are positive changes, too, overseas,” he said. especially for women and girls, he said. But Mortenson’s heart condition and “Although this area of south Kabul is hypoxia, exacerbated by years of chronic fairly conservative, you can see women fatigue, meant his trip to Afghanistan in high heels, some with veils, most with had to be short and focused. In addition headscarves, some fully covered in azure- to meeting with staff members, visiting blue burkas, but they are outside their women’s centers and a visit the site of the homes, that’s a huge change, and many new CAI Gumran Girls’ School in Logar now have shoulder bags for their textbooks, Province, he spent time at the bustling CAI school papers and even some laptops.” Community Learning Center in Kabul. CAI has also hired a female manager Mortenson said the center has come for the center, a college-educated woman a long way since the day in 2006 when named Maliha who is, Mortenson said, CAI’s Afghan Operations Director Wakil “highly proficient on the computer, a prolific Karimi told him, “We need a place so we e-mailer, and fluent in Pashto, Dari, Arabic, can have an office, literacy programs and English and Urdu,” after years spent living as teacher training.” Karimi warned that the a refugee outside Afghanistan. price of land in Kabul was going up fast, “Her desk is the first office on the left Maliha, the female manager of CAI’s with no sign of stopping; land prices had and when people enter, she’ll often invite Community Learning Center in Kabul, quadrupled since the U.S. had invaded them in and pepper them with questions,” he stands outside her office at the center. Afghanistan in 2001. If CAI was going to said. “She is a big advocate of empowering buy land in Kabul, it had to act fast. women. She’s also a great role model. And So Mortenson and Karimi looked all over the city, now women come from all over Kabul to request her assistance.” eventually buying property about six miles south of the Mortenson visited various classes in the center, which are city center for $24,000. “At that time, much of the area was offered year-round by 23 part- and full-time instructors teaching undeveloped,” Mortenson recalled. basic literacy, computer and office skills and running several On the 2-acre plot of land, Karimi built a two-story structure women’s programs. with classrooms, an office and computer labs – all surrounded by “The center is unique in that students come from all walks of an 8-foot-high wall. The Dari words for “Education is Light” are life, all ages, to get extra help with subjects such as math, English,
OH • 7science, computers, Arabic, Dari,” Mortenson said. “Even dozensof Afghan National Army employees, many of whom are illiterate,learn to read and write at the center during their off-duty hours.The army gave them incentives to improve their basic skills– if they attend literacy classes, they have a better chance ofpromotion.” The center also includes a limited enrollment K-10 schoolfor orphans and students from poor families who need extraattention and incentives to stay in school. One boy in first grade, Waisudin, 12, said last summer thathe is still trying to juggle morning classes with long hours as a tileworker. “He must work because his father died, he is the oldestboy with three brothers and two sisters, and there is nobody in hishouse to bring money to the family,” Karimi said. “I had many problems before,” Waisudin said. “This is theonly school that accepted me.” Waisudin’s teacher, Asma, said the CAI center is importantbecause “in Afghanistan, there is not enough money for schools,but education is important, so it is our responsibility and our dutyto help.” Photo courtesy Wakil Karimi Previously a receptionist, Asma said last summer that sheshifted to the center, “because I want to help my people, because Bibi Ashia, in center with white scarf, with her sister and her 10it is a good center and helps poor people. I respect CAI. The children at CAI’s Familia Reshkhur women’s literacy center inpeople here are very kind, and have a lot of experienced teachers Kabul in March. Ashia is a refugee from Kesham, in Afghanistan’sand a lot of good goals.” Badakhshan Province, and a student at the women’s center. Multipliers a woman is educated and has only three children and that Mortenson’s trip also included a stop at another CAI continues into the next generation, she would perhaps have ninewomen’s center, Familia Reshkhur, where he had a chance to talk grandchildren, and 27 great-grandchildren.about one of his favorite topics – the links between education and “Then Wakil said, ‘what is the best way to have less children?overall good health and wellbeing. Education. And this costs you nothing.’” As he spoke with the women, the conversation quickly Before leaving, Mortenson asked a woman to read aloudturned to Afghans’ propensity for having many children. from her science textbook. “Some of the women were giggling about that, but I told “She boldly stood up, said her name was Bibi Ashia and saidthem that female literacy is the single most important factor that she was from Badakhshan Province. She had escaped afterin reducing population growth and fighting poverty,” he said. the Taliban killed several of her relatives in 2000,” he said. “She“I used a simple way to show them, drawing circles on papers, is a mother of 10 children and I asked for all of their names. Afterabout the multiplier effect. That means, if one woman has eight reading aloud, she told me that the most important thing she andchildren, each of whom also has eight kids, she might eventually the other women have in their lives today is education. She said,have 64 grandchildren, and 512 great-grandchildren. But if ‘With education, we women will have a future.’” =Abdul Qaseem, 17, jokes with fellow students during a computer class at CAI’s Kabul learning center.
8 • OH Village elders, religious leaders, government representatives, school teachers and administrators in Shohada, Badakhshan Province, Afghanistan, gather for a jirga with CAI staff to discuss the status of the Shohada Girls’ High School and the need for additional classrooms to accommodate the ever- increasing number of students. A feast of chicken, nan, walnuts, cherries and mulberries was served in honor of the visitors. Q &A Supporters have had numerous questions, and we appreciate the time and thought that has gone into all of them. Below, we have provided a list of the dozen most-commonly asked questions and CAI’s answers, given the information available at this time. 1. If CAI’s primary mission is to build In Afghanistan, we still need new buildings. that CAI has raised in the past 15 years and schools and educate girls in Pakistan and In many ways our work in Afghanistan at brings total program funding to a level that Afghanistan, isn’t public education really this point resembles where we were 10 to 15 reflects CAI’s mission and donors’ desires. about CAI’s fundraising efforts? years ago in Pakistan.” With the explosion of support over the CAI has two purposes– as described past three years, the Talim in the original 1996 certificate of 2. Please provide total Fund has grown from $2 incorporation and in its application for expenditures broken million to $20 million, recognition of exemption as a 501(c)(3) down in percentages while the number of schools charitable organization filed with the spent on overhead built or significantly Internal Revenue Service– to establish and vs. program. Is CAI supported by CAI increased support education in remote mountain really spending from 78 to over 170, with communities of Central Asia and to educate 59% of earnings on plans for more than 70 the public about the importance of these fundraising? additional schools in 2011. educational activities. CAI is dedicated From the beginning, Greg Mortenson’s to using every dollar as 3. Every nonprofit must presentations (educational outreach) have efficiently as possible. file an annual tax return. inspired people to support CAI’s mission In 1996, 100% of According to reports, your with time, money and awareness. His donor dollars went to nonprofit only filed once presentations and his books help fulfill the programs, while 0% went in 14 years - is that true? stated corporate and charitable purposes of to overhead. In 2009, No. IRS 990 forms CAI. While it is true that during 2009-2010 88% went to programs filed for every year since a significant amount of CAI’s resources were and 12% to overhead. CAI’s inception are dedicated to domestic and international The average annual available on our website, educational outreach, the result of that percentage CAI has spent A student listens to her http://www.ikat.org/about- effort makes possible CAI’s ambitious plans on programs throughout teacher in class at CAI’s English cai/financials/ overseas for 2011 and beyond. its history is 78%. Language and Community “CAI plans to establish more than In those figures, Learning Center. 4. What is your response 60 schools in Afghanistan this year,” the programs category to allegations that many Mortenson said. “However, in Pakistan, includes money set aside of the schools you claim CAI plans to establish about a dozen in CAI’s Talim (Pashto for “education”) to have built do not exist, were built by schools; the emphasis there is not so Fund, a nest egg dedicated and restricted others, or stand empty? much on new schools, but to improve the solely for overseas projects. The amount Every single day, CAI’s work helps to education quality, scholarships, teacher raised and set aside in that fund constitutes improve the lives of tens of thousands of training – human capacity building. about 38% of the total of about $60 million people, especially girls, in remote areas of
OH • 9Pakistan and Afghanistan. Throughout hostel plans, not long after it got started the Leaders in those communities approachedthe school year (which varies, depending manager told us he needed more money. CAI for help to pay teachers and buy schoolmostly on climate), thousands of students Over time this manager said, ‘We have supplies. In some places, CAI also addedare in classes at CAI schools. Teachers such a great need, we need to make hostel additional classrooms to existing schools. Inare teaching. And women are meeting at bigger, the price has increased, we need such cases, CAI becomes the key supportervocational centers, where instructors are more funding.’ This went on until a point of the school, providing money and adviceproviding literacy, health, and myriad other where CAI discovered he had manipulated for long-term sustainability.lessons. the books. Finally, CAI staff members in the U.S., At least once a year, a U.S.-based “I trusted him and loved him like a Pakistan, and Afghanistan have embarkedCAI staff or Board member travels to the brother. Unfortunately, for the first time on a comprehensive survey of all schoolsregion to collect documentation, dedicate in our history CAI wound up on the short and programs to insure our information isnew schools and check on CAI projects. end of stick,” he said. “My mistake was that current and accurate. CAI is also workingHowever, routine checks of the schools this was the only project CAI has ever done closely with officials in the Pakistan andare, like the long-term relationships that didn’t have an education committee Afghanistan governments to verify thenecessary to sustain this type of work, the exercising local control.” status of all CAI projects.responsibility of individual in-country • In one village, the CAI school wasproject managers in conjunction with closed after more than a decade when 5. Does CAI pay teachers at CAI schoolslocal education committees. That includes locals formed a social welfare organization or are they paid by others and if so, byinsuring that education is indeed taking to help people on numerous fronts. The whom?place in these schools. organization, founded and run by a In Pakistan, CAI’s regional managers “In order to function successfully, our former CAI student, opened a new school, are wired funds for teachers’ salaries, whichfirst priority is to put the local people in rendering the original CAI school obsolete. are then given to the education committeescharge,” Mortenson said. “Sometimes that About the same time as the former in each village for distribution. In someis risky, more risky than some people may Baltistan manager resigned in 2010, some cases that happens monthly; in morebe comfortable with. But by empowering teachers began complaining that they remote areas, the money is distributed bythe local people and putting them in charge, hadn’t been paid. As a result, other CAI CAI quarterly or semiannually. In addition,the results are far more sustainable and lead workers spent countless hours reconnecting some communities charge a small tuitionto a much greater sense of ownership or with the communities where that manager to families that can pay – the equivalentpride in the project.” had established schools over the past of a couple of U.S. dollars per month or Recent media reports have alleged decade. Reinstating those relationships, and less – and that money is then used to paythat several CAI schools in Baltistan, in trust, takes time. additional teachers as the schools grow.northern Pakistan, were either not being As for allegations that CAI “claims” In Afghanistan, CAI helps withused at all or were not receiving funds. schools it did not build, the organization has construction of the schools, but uponSince those reports did not always cite numerous relationships with communities completion, the schools belong to theparticulars, it is hard to respond with where schools were built by other entities Afghan government, which is supposed toprecision except to say that there could be that were not providing adequate support. provide the teachers and pay them.several reasons for that, including: • Many schools in the remote,mountainous areas close for two months orlonger in the winter. • A disgruntled former manager forprograms in Baltistan was not completelyhonest with Mortenson and CAI’s Board inrecent years about the status of schools forwhich he was responsible. “Since 1993, CAI has had 15 primaryregional managers running the show orin charge of projects and in only one case,in Baltistan, did that system go awry,”Mortenson said. That case involved amanager who may have engaged in “aconfidence trick.” “Confidence tricks have been aroundfor a long time, since colonial times,including where I grew up in Africa, wherean individual will bend over backwards tohelp you, refuse to take money for services,befriend you and then after a period ofyears, begin to test you by committing smallinfractions to see what your response is,” hesaid. “They also make you very dependenton their services as a vital part of theoperation. “One of our great dreams in Baltistanwas to set up a hostel in Skardu for studentsfrom the outlying regions to continuetheir education and pursue their dreams. Students of CAI’s girls’ college in the Ishkoman Valley, Ghizer District of northern Pakistan,Although the Board approved the original gather outside in the school’s courtyard after a dedication ceremony in September 2010.
10 • OH v But in some cases, CAI supplements government funding with additional money for additional teachers. And in the more remote areas, when the government does not make good on its obligation to pay teacher salaries, CAI steps in to pay them and ensure they continue to come to work every day. 6. Please address the allegations that many Board members have resigned. Over the years, some Board members have resigned due to philosophical and/or managerial differences with other Board members and/or with Greg Mortenson. Since its inception, CAI has had 14 board members, with an average 5.2-year term of service. 7. Also, three Board members, including Greg Mortenson, are too few. Is the organization giving any consideration to beefing up the Board? Yes, the current CAI Board is in the process of expanding Mohammad Nazir, CAI operations manager in Baltistan, writes the number of Board members and is reviewing qualifications of a receipt recording payment of funds to help launch a women’s potential candidates. clinic in Khalpalu. The clinic is administered by Shakeela, a graduate of CAI’s Hushe School, who received post-secondary 8. How do you defend the fact that of the 11 schools claimed training in women’s health care, with an emphasis on maternal to have been built in Kunar Province, Afghanistan, there were health. really only three? CAI has built four schools in Kunar Province and has another five schools under construction, according to its Afghan operations people for the money. We communicate with Taliban and when manager, Wakil Karimi. Work on those five has been suspended they say, ‘you can start your work,’ then we start again.” several times because the ongoing fighting creates a “risky situation.” Plus, establishing schools in this region is long-term work; “In Kunar, the situation is dangerous and we had to suspend three of the four that are now complete took several years from building in some places, pending negotiations with the Taliban,” inception to completion. Often a school is established first by he said. “Al Qaeda and Taliban, they control roads and just kidnap providing a teacher, with classes in a tent or rented building. CAI’s Afghan Operations Manager, Wakil Karimi, bottom right, talks with laborers laying the foundation for a new school in Musakhil, Afghanistan.
OH • 11 Students return to their classroom after recess on a June day in Kabul. Meanwhile, CAI staff work with the commercial airlines. Generally, he has to Based on that assessment and the Board’slocal education committee to address all fly late at night to accommodate his hectic longtime confirmation of the effectivenesscommunity concerns, including those of schedule, which in the past four years put of its collaboration with Greg, the Boardextremists, and identify land. In some cases, him in an average 126 cities per year, plus confirmed its intention to continue toschools were well into this process when international travel and overseas project refine and address the particulars of theirnegotiations fell apart due to “no land,” or visits. Number two is his health, which has relationship on an ongoing basis.“Taliban not agree,” Karimi said. been in decline for the past 18 months. And The provincial and district education number three is security. Greg has received 12. What about the possibility of turningmanagers have assured CAI they are more threats against his life, and commercial over accountability of running thethan satisfied with CAI’s work in Kunar, as travel sometimes presents over-exposure to schools to a local organization; if thereare the communities CAI serves. “Go inside threatening elements. is no organization, then perhaps anof the village, talk to the local people. Their Greg began paying his own travel organization under the umbrella of CAI?children are coming to the school. They are expenses in January 2011. In Afghanistan, CAI already operatesthe ones who know,” Karimi said. under the auspices of three organizations: 11. The Board statement that “counsel CAI; the Marco Polo Foundation, a9. How much of Greg Mortenson’s books concluded there is no ‘excess benefit’ – registered nonprofit that primarily coverswere fabricated or embellished? that is, CAI appropriately receives central and northern Afghanistan and The contents of Greg Mortenson’s a greater benefit from Greg’s activities has schools in Badakhshan (including thebooks Three Cups of Tea and Stones Into than Greg does himself,” is vague. Please Wakhan Corridor and Pamir), Takhar, andSchools are based on events that actually elaborate. Baghlan provinces; and Star of Knowledge,happened. Media allegations that Greg did Any time Greg gives a presentation a registered nonprofit that covers Urozgan,not visit Korphe in 1993 are false; he first about how he came to dedicate his life Khost, Paktia, Nangarhar, Logar, Wardak,visited Korphe in September 1993 after to building schools in Pakistan and Kunar, Panshjir, Kapisa, Parvan, and, thisfailing to reach the summit of K2 and later Afghanistan and people are inspired, those year, Bamiyan provinces.built a school there. people donate to CAI, not Greg personally, Our Pakistan operations all remain And Greg was, in fact, detained and in furthering CAI’s mission. In addition, under the auspices of CAI, although theyheld against his will in 1996, with his his presentations and his books, although are divided into regions: Baltistan, Gilgit-passport and money confiscated, although his alone, do help CAI accomplish its stated Hunza, Azad Kashmir, and Punjab. Thehis captors did treat him well, as he charitable purposes by educating the public staff that run the regional operations are allaccurately described in his book. Greg’s and drawing awareness to the significant from those areas. =initial rebuttal to some of the allegations needs of that region and the significantcan be viewed at www.ikat.org. cultural differences between the U.S. and that region.10. Has Greg used funds for private jets While Greg has benefitted from thisunnecessarily? collaboration, CAI has benefited even more. There are three reasons Greg has used Greg and the Board initiated a self- For more informationcharter planes. imposed analysis and evaluation, with and current updates Number one, Greg’s schedule often outside advice, of their collaboration in visit www.ikat.org.presents difficult logistical scenarios that January 2011. The results of the inquiryare nearly impossible to accomplish with were presented to the Board on April 13.
12 • OH A message to the children Asalaam-Alaikum Meher’s determination speaks to the pay-it-forward aspect that has emerged as a result of CAI’s work in Peace be with you these remote villages. One of my greatest joys is to visit dozens of schools “Education is important for me because I can also save every year, public and private, rural and urban. I truly my own area and educate other people and kids,” she said. believe that it is children who are the real catalysts for Amina, a teacher in another CAI school in that same peace in the world. Not only do area of Pakistan, said your children have great ideas, it is pennies are making a huge also very powerful when children difference in her students’ lives. can learn and apply the lessons “All the villagers, teachers, they learn from their elders students and all management about tolerance, compassion, of our school are thankful to patience and hard work. CAI for providing this new My biggest concern about building, washrooms, furniture, recent allegations in the media and supplies for students,” she against CAI, and myself is that said in September. “We are they were mean spirited and so thankful. This is the only gave no consideration to the organization helping here. Now demoralizing impact such news kids go to school and learn to might have on the children of read and write. We have 85 Pakistan and Afghanistan and the students here and expecting more than 1.2 million U.S. and more.” Canadian children involved in our CAI would not exist today Pennies for Peace (P4P) program. in villages like Meher’s and I am very sorry if these attacks Amina’s without the millions of left you feeling confused, hurt, pennies you have donated over upset or disheartened. the years. Since its founding, Let me assure you that I more than 9,400 schools, stand by the stories conveyed in organizations, places of worship, my books, and by the value of libraries, and businesses have CAI’s work in empowering local had registered P4P campaigns communities through education in 62 countries. You should be for tens of thousands of children proud that you helped educate since 1996. I will speak to you in Fozia Naseer, right, CAI’s women’s development so many children in Pakistan and more detail about these issues and scholarship director, and a school teacher, Afghanistan with your pennies after I regain my health. left, distribute school supplies bought with P4P and hard work. Each of you Mostly, I want to assure donations to students at Al-Abid Community make a difference in the world you that 100 percent of P4P School in Skardu, Pakistan, last September. by bringing peace through donations go to build schools, education - one penny at a time. purchase school supplies and -Greg Mortenson provide educational support for children in rural Pakistan and Afghanistan. The enormous difference it makes in every single student’s life is undeniable. Pennies for Peace Meher, a 17-year-old student at a CAI high school in PO Box 7209 the Ghizer district of northern Pakistan, said last fall that when she is done with school in her village, she’d like to Bozeman, MT 59771 continue her education and become the first woman doctor 406.585.7841 from her village, able to “understand and better help with www.penniesforpeace.org the basic problems with women in our society.”
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