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  • 1. journey of Hope Annual publication of Central Asia Institute Volume V = Fall 2011 Table of Contents Introduction 2 Generations of Hope: Korphe, where it all began 3 Plus: Education crisis in Pakistan 5 Map of CAI project areas 7 Isolation and Hope: Wakhan Corridor and Bozoi Gumbad 8 Visions of Hope: Greg Mortenson overseas 14 Hope Trumps Fear: Ghizer District ‘a soft corner for extremists’ 16 Plus: History of CAI in region 19 Documenting Hope: A project survey 20 Hope Amid War: CAI projects in Central and Eastern Afghanistan 24 Delivering Hope: CAI explores new frontiers in Tajikistan 30 Hope and Last Illiterate Generation: CAI’s women’s centers 34 Teaching Hope: Pennies for Peace 38 “I’ll never forget how many schools there aren’t in the world” Hope in new places: Khyber Paktunkhwa 39 Bios and contact information 40COVER PHOTOS - Cover: A young student works on her English lessons at CAI’s Haji Ali Memorial School in Korphe, Baltistan, Pakistan.In 2010, CAI built a new school to replace the original one after heavy rain collapsed the roof and caused major structural damage.Inside cover: A student recites a lesson at the chalkboard in front of her class at Rahesht Primary School in Parwan Province northof Kabul. Inside back: A woman sews a garment at the Khandud Women’s Vocational Center in the Wakhan Corridor in northeastAfghanistan. Back: Children walk home at the end of the school day from CAI’s Pigish School (in the distance behind them) in theWakhan Corridor in northeast Afghanistan.
  • 2. lntroduction Dear Reader, of crossing your fingers.” mismanaged the organization and fabricated As the children at Pushgar School in She’s right. “Hope is about pushing sadness or manipulated details about CAI’s Afghanistan’s Panjshir Province say with aside for years in order to put one foot in front accomplishments overseas to benefit himself. enthusiasm, “AHHHH-Salaam Aleikum.” of the other,” she said. “It’s not the same as That they coincided with Greg’s serious health Welcome to the fifth volume of “The Journey wishing or wanting or optimism. It’s about issues – he wound up undergoing open-heart of Hope,” Central Asia Institute’s annual working to change a system that has failed you surgery in June to repair an aneurism and a report in stories and photos from Pakistan, again and again and again.” hole in his heart – have made things all that Afghanistan and Tajikistan. Her words stick with me; I see hope much harder. The repercussions of all this have I have thought a lot about hope in recent everywhere I go in pursuit of these stories. been staggering and are still being sorted out. months. It’s been a tough year for CAI and CAI works in developing countries where But I’ve been lucky. I “can see the stars.” its co-founder Greg Mortenson. But over and grinding poverty, hunger, and illiteracy In my travels I hear the stories and see over and over again I have seen hope trump are real, in communities where there is the projects. I know that CAI is inspiring, adversity. no electricity or running water and where cultivating and delivering hope. I know CAI is That’s because I have the privilege of extended families live in small mud houses making a difference. traveling to Central Asia to visit CAI schools and breathe the dense smoke of dung fires That’s true for our overseas managers, too. and projects and drinking lots of tea along the every day of their lives. “I am very lucky that I find [Greg] and to way. And then I get to be the bridge between Many survive on milky tea and bread. be working for CAI,” Saidullah Baig, CAI’s CAI and you, our steadfast supporters. Women commonly die giving birth. Too Gilgit project manager, said in May. “Not It’s not all a joy ride. Photographer Ellen many families flee the fighting in their villages just because of his working for the poor, but Jaskol and I spend a lot of time bumping and move to strange cities overflowing with because he brought us humanity, he taught us along twisty, rocky mountain roads in pickup thousands of others like them. Women lose to serve the human being, to love the human trucks, sleeping on floors and witnessing their husbands, children lose their fathers, being, to help the people who are poorer than heartbreaking poverty. and parents lose their sons to a war that never you … [and] to educate the females in the But there are no words, really, for the seems to end. remote areas. benefits. We get to visit remote villages most In this part of the world, desperate, “You don’t have to do what Greg Mortenson people never see. We are invited into people’s opportunistic people crop up without is doing. You don’t have to make a school. homes and trusted with their stories and their warning, demanding money, threatening any Just come and help one orphan girl. Or come dreams of a better future. We witness change sense of security and asserting their power and make a toilet. Or give a single dollar to as it happens in communities where education in dangerous ways. The sight of men toting a vocational center so we can improve their is making a difference, one child at a time. Kalashnikovs is common. Missteps can have lives. You come to this valley, you see and As a result, our travels are highlighted by deadly consequences. observe. You come here and listen to the kids.” qualities that are increasingly rare in our fast- Imagine living in such a world. He speaks for all of us. paced, divisive Western world – gratitude and Yet, as my wise friend said, powerful people Peace, grace and hope. can take away your home, your land, your Hope is, indeed, at the heart of everything rights and even the people you love – “But they CAI aspires to do in the world. I tried to find can’t take away your hope.” another word for hope. But other words – And education is the foundation of hope. “wish,” “look forward to,” “desire” – don’t Greg often quotes the Persian proverb, work; they aren’t the same. As a wise friend of “When it is dark, you can see the stars.” Karin Ronnow mine who works in South America said earlier I’ve held fast to that image in the months CAI communications director this year, “Hope is not the verbal equivalent since allegations surfaced that Greg Nov. 17, 20112 | Journey of Hope
  • 3. The morning sun rises above the Karakoram Mountains and the village of Korphe, Baltistan, Pakistan. CAI’s Haji Ali Memorial School is thewhite building (center left) on the bench above the Braldu River. Generations of Hope Korphe korphe is home to Cai’s first school, second generation KORPHE, Pakistan – Time stood still in this inception. “They are going to school and doing good things for their AN village high in the Karakoram Mountains for children, their families, their villages. ST centuries. “Because of Greg, we have girls and boys who went on to earn their KI PA The local Balti people led simple lives, in sync degrees and now have good jobs, including a nurse, teacher, engineer, with the seasons, focused on survival. Most had no Islamic scholar – many, many different jobs.” idea of the year they were Even the school has entered a second born; due to illiteracy, they generation of sorts. Last year, the same heavy kept no written record of such rains that triggered Pakistan’s epic floodsthings. Nor did it particularly matter. People destroyed the original Korphe School. Therose with the sun in the morning, worked as roof caved in. And Central Asia Institute,subsistence farmers all day and went to sleep the nonprofit organization Mortenson co-when it was dark. founded in 1996, quickly rebuilt the school. For perhaps six centuries, that was all they “The Korphe community is tremendouslyknew. proud of their school and Twaha, the village Then an American named Greg Mortenson leader now, said that without a school thereaccidentally stumbled into Korphe after an was no light in the community, so we made itunsuccessful attempt to summit K2, the a priority to help them,” Mortenson said.world’s second-highest mountain. The yearwas 1993. Three years and countless financial Resourceful, determined peopleand logistical peaks and valleys later, he and Twaha Ali, son of Haji Ali, proudly shows off Just getting to Korphe from “downside” inthe villagers completed work on Korphe’s first his village. Skardu, the capital of Baltistan, entails an all-school – ever. day jeep ride over rough dirt roads. It takes In the 15 years since, a generation of Korphe’s children has learned eight hours to traverse the roughly 60 miles. The trip is only possibleto read and write. Some graduates have gone on to pursue higher during the warmer seasons. And even then, it can be dangerous andeducation. Others have married and are raising their own children, the iffy.next generation of Korphe School students. The road follows the Shigar and Braldu rivers as it climbs into the “Now, slowly, people are changing,” said “Master” Hussain, who mountains, over boulder fields, gravel, mud, sand and hard-packed dirt.became Korphe’s first educated person after his father sent him to Every year or two, jeeps careen off the road and plunge into the riverschool in Lahore, and who has been a teacher in the school since its canyon below. 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 Fall 2011 | 3
  • 4. Signmaker Olam Mehdi (left) sits in his shop in Skardu where he’s been making signs and banners for CAI schools since 1995, including the original (above right) and the new (above left) signs for Korphe School. In May, about two-thirds of the way to “So doggedly do Baltis make habitable city and have a city life.” Korphe, red flags and cairns – stacks of rocks the most unlikely places,” Irish adventurer He would, however, like a few more – indicated problems ahead. At a nerve- Dervla Murphy wrote in her book, “Where modern amenities. “Electricity to Korphe wrackingly narrow spot where a cliff rises the Indus is Young.” “It really is extraordinary would be good. We can get heaters, lightness on the right and the Braldu gushes through a how humans come to terms with such and television. Now only sleeping when it is rocky canyon 100 feet below on the left, the areas, showing infinite resourcefulness and dark.” road was covered with rocks and silty glacial determination in their efforts to sustain life.” But he’s not holding his breath. sand. Landslide. “Since partition (in 1947), the Pakistan “This happens when it is hot and the government has not paid attention to us,” glaciers are melting or when there’s too he said. much rain, or when the wind sweeps He’s more optimistic about his latest away the sand holding up rocks on request to CAI for a public bathroom mountainside,” said Mohammad Nazir, for the village, and maybe a small health CAI’s Baltistan program manager. center. Which means it happens a lot. In the years since Mortenson’s work in In 2010, “because of much rain and Korphe launched CAI and Mortenson’s landslides, the road was blocked for many own humanitarian career, CAI’s work has months at two, three points,” said Twaha expanded to include dozens of projects in Ali, Korphe’s village chief. Baltistan. [For more information, see the Fortunately, by that time most of the Master Project List online at www.ikat. materials to rebuild the school had been org] delivered, Nazir said. But the distance The work started with primary schools, from the “cityside” is one reason Korphe “Master” Hussain poses with his Korphe School class. based on the basic philosophy that, as remains so timeless. Mohammad Ajaz, teacher and principal Twaha’s ancestors migrated from Tibet at CAI’s Hemasil School downriver from and settled in the treeless, rocky landscape at Korphe is indeed a tough place to carve out Korphe, put it: “Without education, we an altitude of about 10,000 feet hundreds of a living, raise a family and fight for health and cannot progress.” years ago. On a bench high above the Braldu happiness, Twaha conceded. Yet as people become educated and more River, they built simple homes of mud and “Life is hard here,” Twaha said. “We live aware of the need for higher education, basic straw, sometimes trimmed with precious in the mountains. It’s hard to live in the sanitation and health care, their requests for pieces of carved wood brought by Himalayan mountains. More than 500 people live in help reflect that. Sometimes resourcefulness traders. The houses were built close together Korphe, but only four people are government and determination are not enough. They need so that all arable land was reserved for crops. servants and the rest of the people are farmers. outside help. Then as now, families used dried animal Most people only grow enough to eat, not to CAI’s ongoing relationships with the dung fires to heat their homes and cook their sell.” schools and communities, its willingness food. The dung burns slowly and generates But, Twaha said, smiling and pushing his to continue to expand schools and consider a dense smoke that permeates everything – pakol (woolen hat) back on his head, it is other critical needs along the way have made including eyes and lungs. To generate a little home. Mortenson a hero not just in Korphe, but more heat, winter stables for the animals – “It is a hard life for us. But even if we would across the region. yak, goats, sheep – are attached to the homes, starve, we would get food and we’re not going “Greg is a very great and honest man,” sometimes above living quarters, sometimes to die,” he said. “And we’re happy to be here. Hussain said. “He has worked hard, especially below. We born and raised here. I don’t want to go to in the backward areas of Baltistan. Many4 | Journey of Hope
  • 5. climbers, trekkers and NGOs (non- everyone loves him very much.”governmental organizations) come here, but After passing the sign, it is just a shortmost only take photos and do nothing.” distance over the jola or zamba (bridge in Urdu or Balti) – a new one built by the The new school government to replace the foot bridge The new Korphe School, set in a green Mortenson built before constructing the firstfield and framed by vaulting snow-capped Korphe School – and into Korphe. However,mountains, is visible from a short distance to visit the school and village requires hikingdownriver. Soon after the school comes into up a nearly vertical rocky hill to a bench. Butview, the original signboard pops up on the then there it is – the place where it all began.left side of the road just outside Askole, the When the 15-year-old Korphe School’s roofvillage across the Braldu River from Korphe. collapsed last year, Nazir knew there would In green letters on a white background, the be no question about CAI’s commitment tosign credits the individuals and organizations reconstruction. The logistics, however, werethat helped bring that first project to daunting. And Nazir is rightfully proud offruition, including the American Himalaya his ability to get the work done in a singleFoundation and West Side Elementary School construction season.in River Falls, Wisc. “First with the villagers we put the students “Korphe School and Braldo [ 88999sic] in a temporary location and demolished theBridge Project. Dedicated to the Balti old school,” he said. “That part was easy.”children living here on the roof of the world.” Getting building materials to the site was That the original sign still exists is a point of the next step. “Korphe is not easy access and Pakistan’spride for the Skardu signmaker Olam Mehdi. the school is even more difficult to reach, so “I did the first signboard in 1995 for the building was very difficult,” Nazir said. educationKorphe School and that board is still there,” “The only building materials we could emergencyhe said. And he bought into CAI’s philosophy get nearby in Korphe were sand and crashright away. Since then, he’s made signs and (gravel). All other material had to come from The year 2011 was set aside asbanners for more than 200 CAI schools, Skardu – wooden frames, cement, iron bars – Pakistan’s “Year of Education.”water projects, celebrations and dedications. everything. So we had lots of transport costs.” But just three months into theHis work is everywhere CAI has a school in But the materials were delivered before year, one of the country’s leadingBaltistan. the spring rains triggered the landslides newspapers, Dawn, reported that “This area is very poor and CAI has made that closed the road, Nazir said. “That was “Pakistan is crippled by an educationmore than 45 schools in Baltistan, and a lot of most lucky.” It also meant the local laborers, emergency.”water projects, too, so families can have fresh supervised by Twaha (the son of Haji Ali, the “One in 10 of the world’s out-of-and clean drinking water. All of that gives man who oversaw construction of the first school children is a Pakistani,” thepeople hope for a better future,” said Mehdi, school), were able to work throughout the March 9, 2011, story noted.the father of two, who in his spare time summer. And of those age 6 to 16 who arepreserves old poems in beautiful, handwritten Nazir said the villagers laid a 4-foot-deep actually in school, only 50 percentPersian and Tibetan script. “We are very foundation underground, topped by layers of can read a sentence and only 35thankful for Greg. He has given so many cement and stone until the base was one foot percent can read a story, accordinggood things for Baltistan communities and above ground. “Then we could start.” to Dawn. “There are 26 countries poorer than Pakistan but send more of their children to school, demonstrating the issue is not about finances,” the story said. “It is too easy, and incorrect, to believe that Pakistan is too poor to provide this basic right.” The problem isn’t just enrollment in schools: 30,000 school buildings are in dangerous condition, Dawn noted, and another 21,000 schools have no buildings whatsoever. “No country can thrive in the modern world without educated citizens,” the story said. Yet, “there is a 0 percent chance that the government will reach the (United Nations’) millennium development goals by 2015 on education. “India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are all on their way to achieving the same goals. India’s improvement rate is 10 times that of Pakistan; Bangladesh’s is twice that ofFiza Bano, 10, the only girl in her fourth-grade class, studies outside in the courtyard of the Pakistan.”Haji Ali Memorial School in Korphe. – Karin ronnow Fall 2011 | 5
  • 6. A Korphe woman cleans grain. The result is a tidy five-classroom school with double doors on each village. Before long, a group of boys had latched onto parade of visitors room and “best-quality” hardware and locks, Nazir said. The windows who were, Twaha said, the most exciting thing to come along in a while. and doors are made of good wood. The playground equipment has Some of the women looked up from their chores, washing dishes and been delivered. There are a boys’ and a girls’ toilet. And the gate in theclothes in the stream or laying grass out to dry on the roofs, but many boundary wall surrounding the school is bright blue. hid their faces or turned away from the unfamiliar visitors. The girls, “CAI gives everything here, most importantly too, squealed, giggled and turned away, although – the teachers,” he said. “There are no school fees curiosity won out for a few, who kept turning for students and we bring stationary – notebooks, back, determined to get a look. pencils, sharpeners, chalk, rulers, all things the “The women here are shy, frightened of students need.” strangers,” Twaha said. “But when Greg came here, he went house to house to visit everyone, Storytelling shake hands. One time he brought a friend and Balti hospitality does not allow guests to stand the women would shake Greg’s hand, but not his around for long without serving them paiyu chaa, friend’s. The friend asked, ‘Why won’t you shake (green tea with salt and goat or yak milk). So it my hand?’ The women said, ‘Greg, he is member was that, after a quick look at the school, Twaha of our village.’” and Nazir steered the visitors to the village Twaha led the visitors through the narrow guesthouse – a small house with a rudimentary maze of paths between the houses. He pointed kitchen and a living/eating/sleeping room. out his own home and then his father’s home, The guests kicked off their shoes at the door where he said, “Inside there is where Greg slept. and settled around the edges of the rug-covered We could make museum someday. What do you floor, leaning against pillows and piles of blankets think?” and padded quilts. He proudly pointed out the engraved wood As the late afternoon sun shone through a dusty posts his father had installed, but then hurried the window, a plastic “table” cloth was spread on the A Korphe man prepares to serve milk group back onto the path. floor and tea was served – tea, biscuits brought tea to guests. At the center of the village, the male elders from Skardu, dried apricots and hardboiled eggs. were sitting together, talking in the late afternoon Twaha poured tea and told stories. A steady stream of men stopped sunlight. They stood, however, to shake hands with the guests and ask by to say hello, get a good look at the visitors and inquire about Greg’s about Greg and his health. health. A 5x7 color photo of Greg and his family was tacked to the wall But the time before sunset was getting short, Twaha said, and kept like a family photo. the crew moving out of the village. The path wound north alongside In between prayers and after some banter about the recent death of irrigated fields, across a rock-strewn stream and onto an arid plateau Osama bin Laden and complaints about the rising cost of everything, littered with boulders. Twaha jumped up and headed for the door of the guesthouse. From the village, it’s a 30-minute walk to the remains of the old “Here, come, I’ll show you something,” he said with a big grin. bridge over the Braldu River that Twaha was so eager to point out. Twaha’s guests took one last swallow of their tea, grabbed cameras “There,” he said, pointing down a nearly vertical hill. “The bridge and notebooks, jackets and shoes and followed Twaha through his is right there. Bridge is no good now, but when Greg came, it was6 | Journey of Hope
  • 7. crossable. If you were over on the other side School starts at 8.30 a.m., when one of the visitors a letter they had written in Urdu,and looked south, you would see Korphe, but the three teachers bangs on a circular piece requesting scholarships to help them finishnot Askole. So he crossed to Korphe.” of metal. The first order of business is the high school (class 10) in Skardu. And the rest, as they say, is history. morning assembly. One of them, 18-year-old Abida, is As the students lined up in the schoolyard, Hussain’s daughter. She said shyly that she School days Master Hussain explained that the enrollment wasn’t sure what she wanted to do for work The sun was setting by the time the group had reached 80 students, including 30 girls, once she finished her schooling, only that shearrived back at the guesthouse. A group of from Korphe and neighboring Manjong. didn’t really want to become a teacher like heryoung men from the village were cooking a He has been trying to increase the number father.freshly butchered sheep in a pot over an open of female students, he said, nodding toward At this point in her life, she said, her passionfire. Meals for guests, whenever possible, the girls standing outside the gate and is reading.include meat, although most families are too watching the school day get under way. “But “So if you could help, I would like fictionpoor to eat meat with any regularity. And still we have not so many girls because some stories, preferably in Urdu, but English wouldwhile women and girls do the daily cooking, families they are not allowing for different be OK,” she said. “I just like to read.” =the men step in on special occasions. reasons,” he said. After sundown, the men served a feast, Change takes time, he added.laying out heaping plates of boiled mutton “But everybody is very happy” with thestew, potatoes, rice and bread. For dessert, new school, he said, walking up the stairsNazir produced a bushel of mangoes he had and opening doors to show off the five newbrought along from “cityside.” classrooms, office and storage room. The And then, after a stretch outside and a look students’ parents are also happy with the cleanat the stars, the stories resumed. Baltis love to new latrines and the playground equipment.tell stories. However, the school needs another teacher, “Baltis have a careworn, depressed look he said. “From here there are no good,at first sight,” Sir Francis Younghusband, qualified people and nobody from downsidea 19th century British army officer and wants to come and stay in Korphe.” His hopeexplorer, wrote in “Wonders of the Himalaya.” is one or two of the students who have finished“But they are a gentle, likeable people, and class eight in Korphe and gone on to study inwhenever the care of feeding themselves is Skardu will return and join the teaching staff.off their minds, they brighten up and unloose One of the girls in class eight, 15-year-oldtheir tongues.” Mehra, said she’d like to continue her studies The stories continued long after most of the and become a teacher. Asked if she wouldvillage had gone to sleep. return to Korphe, she said she wouldn’t know Roosters announced sunrise the next day that until she marries, since women typicallyand soon after, the village was awake, smoke move to their husband’s village.rising from cooking fires and children already “Where I teach would depend on where Ishooing chickens out of the wheat and barley am going to live,” she said.fields that abut the village. Mehra and two other girls then handed Student at Haji Ali Memorial School. TAJIKISTAN Dushanbe Khorog BADAKSHAN TA J I K I S TA N PROVINCE Bozoi Gumbad CHINA Faisabad Sarhad N Konduz PURSA CHA Ishkashim .C. L.O Barswat Hunza A F G H A N I S TA N K2 ANJOMAN PASS Gilgit Korphe Karakoram Highway Chunda Charikar Parwan Province Skardu Naray Kunar Province BALTISTAN KABUL Lin e of C o n tro l PA K I S TA N INDIA KASHMIR Muzaffarabad IRAN ISLAMABAD ARABIAN SEA Fall 2011 | 7
  • 8. SARFRAz KHAN Kyrgyz students, teachers, and parents head to CAI’s Bozoi Gumbad School in the Little Pamir of Afghanistan. lsolation and Hope Cai builds string of projects along remote afghan corridor Wakhan Corridor WAKHAN CORRIDOR, donkeys loaded down with new school desks, notebooks and pencils, Afghanistan – A two-day horseback ride and giant bags of flour and rice set off from the Wakhan. Carpenters AN – if you’re a good rider and there’s no snow – and porters led the beasts of burden up and over the mountains, along I ST from the last village in the Wakhan Corridor the river, through the valleys and into Bozoi. AN east into the Little Pamir lands a person in the Logistics for delivering even the most basic resources to this school GH most remote place Central Asia Institute has are daunting – which is probably why few people even try. AF ever built a school – Bozoi Gumbad. But it is paying off, Khan said as the school season at Bam-i-Dunya, In late May, three Afghan teachers and their or the “Roof of the World,” wound down. guide journeyed to that “Usually school will probably end isolated region. On the in September, but this year there was wide-open, high-altitude plain no snow there yet and the teachers that would be home for the next five said they wanted 10 to 15 days months, the intrepid teachers met more,” Sarfraz said in late September. their Kyrgyz students, descendants of “The students were doing very nice, the nomads who have wandered these speaking good Persian. Before they mountains for centuries with their didn’t speak this language. And now goats, sheep and yaks. they are learning some basic English. About the same time, from another “This is very nice news for direction, CAI Program Director the world. Many NGOs [non- Sarfraz Khan was hauling a stack of governmental organizations] for eight yurts – the portable, traditional many years try to help the Kyrgyz, Kyrgyz housing – to Bozoi via a but you have to go up and down rugged old tank road from Tajikistan through many mountain passes on built decades ago by the former horse or foot for days. So the other Soviet Union. Khan’s yurts were to NGOs say, ‘Say hello to the Kyrgyz, serve as a hostel for the teachers and SARFRAz KHAN I’m going back to Kabul.’” students during the school season. Boys and girls read from textbooks in one of three Bozoi But not CAI. A few weeks later, a team of Gumbad classrooms. The three-room Bozoi Gumbad8 | Journey of 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
  • 9. School is the only one in Afghanistan’s Little through the Wakhan, where the government In Afghanistan, enrollment has increasedPamir, and stands as a sort of exclamation started to build a middle school – nine years from 800,000 to more than 7 million students,point at the eastern end of a long string of CAI ago. While the village waited, classes were including 2.5 million females, in the pastprojects through the remote and neglected held in tents, an almost ridiculous notion in decade. Although Afghanistan’s educationWakhan Corridor. a place where winters are harsh and the wind prospects are looking better these days, the John Pilkington, a British travel writer, blows constantly. vast majority of support still goes to urbanphotographer and radio journalist, traveled Sarfraz saw the situation, held several areas and provincial hubs while the rural areasthrough the Wakhan to Bozoi this summer meetings with villagers and this spring including the Wakhan are ignored.and said he was “astonished” by the number of broke ground for a high school adjacent toCAI schools he saw in the Wakhan. They are the government construction site. Shortly Relic of Great Game“a real tribute to the energy and enthusiasm afterwards, the government came along and The Wakhan Corridor is a narrow,of the CAI staff and their local partners. I also finished its building. 140-mile-long, finger-shaped piece ofnoticed how well located each school was Headmaster Abdul Karim said he is Afghanistan tucked between Tajikistan andwithin its village. They’re a focus for the whole delighted with the new school that bears CAI’s Pakistan, “where the Hindu Kush, Karakoram,community.” signature white sitara (star) on the side. With Kunlun and Tian Shan mountain ranges Of Bozoi Gumbad School, he said, “The the two buildings, the villagers can finally come together in a tangle of glaciated peaks,”building in the vastness of the Little Pamir is fold up the remaining tents and shift all 312 Pilkington wrote on his blog (www.pilk.net)a tiny gem in the middle of nowhere. My first students into classrooms. after his trip.reaction was disbelief. Then, after I’d met the “Before we were like shepherds, with The no-man’s-land is a “relic of the 19thstudents [and teachers], I thought, ‘This is just classes in tents, waiting for years while the century ‘Great Game’ between Britain andfantastic.’” government was building, building, building,” Russia,” created after Russians arrested British Sarfraz takes enormous pride in the Bozoi he said. “But CAI starts and, in six months, Army Capt. Francis Younghusband at Bozoiproject, which took many years – and many finished. We are very thankful.” Gumbad – not far from CAI’s school – incups of tea – to negotiate, construct, and fill Even the government officials are grateful, the late 1800s. When the Russians orderedwith students. although a little chagrined, at CAI’s efficiency Younghusband to leave Russian territory, “Most people say education is a good thing, and efficacy. the Brits saw this as a threat of war andbut the Kyrgyz, they don’t really know about “You yourself have seen all the Wakhan, “immediately mobilized troops to defend theeducation,” Sarfraz said. “Today the only and all schools are CAI,” Wakhan Education frontier,” Pilkington wrote.money Kyrgyz have comes from the animals. Director Razar Ghazal Sahi said at the endSo they want children to go with the yak and of a tour of CAI’s projects in September.sheep, collect them at night and keep a lookout “Government is not really working here andfor wolves. If the kids all go to school, the we only get promises, but no money fromhouse is just two people, the wife and husband, Kabul. There are no other NGOs. CAI isand this is too difficult. So they say, ‘We much starting all these schools.”want education, but we also need children tohelp with work.’ “I encourage them. I tell them, ‘After 10 Workers wave from the roof of a nine-years, you will see the profit from education. room school CAI is building in Sust, in theLook at Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. We need Wakhan, next to a government-built school.10 to 15 years for kids to grow up to be a The two buildings will accommodate 312teacher or a nurse or something else and start students.making money.’ And slowly, slowly, they sayyes,” he said. White stars in the Wakhan CAI has worked in the remote WakhanCorridor for eight years. When it started, thehandful of government-run, understaffedand crumbling earthen schools meant thatmost Wakhi families never even considerededucation an option. But now, from Iskhashim to Bozoi Gumbad,CAI is changing the way people think abouteducation and about their future. “We get life from education more thanfrom anything else,” said Daulat Baig, headteacher at CAI’s Pigish School. “We want tobring education to the whole area, but ourgovernment has many problems and so isdoing nothing in this area. Our only help isfrom CAI. You help all of the Wakhan “We know it is much difficult to travel toAfghanistan, to work here. But you came here.All the students and teachers, all the peopleare happy because CAI gives every village aschool building. If we wanted government Students line up at the end of the school day waiting to be dismissed at Pigish Higherhelp, we would wait 20 years.” Secondary School. CAI recently added four classrooms to the original CAI-built 12-room His point is borne out in Sust, about halfway school, making it a high school. Fall 2011 | 9
  • 10. “Thankfully in the end the Russians backed But Islamic militancy is creeping closer. but Taliban killed him,” Tawalkhali Shah said, down and war was averted. But this so-called The Wakhan is in Badhakshan Province, “We had hope that Rabbani would bring peace ‘Pamir Incident’ led directly to the creation of where extremists increasingly target security to Afghanistan, but we lost him and now we today’s curious boundaries, with the Wakhan forces. And the situation in neighboring are suffering.” Corridor incorporated into Afghanistan to Nuristan, Fakhar, and Konduz provinces His death also served as a dark reminder prevent British and Russian forces ever again has deteriorated to the point where it is too that although the Wakhan lives in relative having to meet.” dangerous to travel by road from Kabul to the peace, war rages just out of sight – a war The sad result of that is more than a century Wakhan. that only extends the of isolation. The Afghan government has been Tension in the region misery of poverty in content to let the Wakhis carry on their quiet, escalated in September, the Wakhan given impoverished existence. after former Afghan that the development Yet the isolation has also resulted in a president Burhanuddin money pouring into relative peace. The Taliban never took root in Rabbani – head of Afghanistan doesn’t Wakhan, even during its five-year reign that President Karzai’s reach this remote ended just after Sept. 11, 2001. High Peace Council corridor. And that “The Wakhan is a beautiful area – beautiful – was killed in Kabul. makes CAI’s heavy people, beautiful mountains, beautiful valleys Rabbani was from investment in the – and no fighting,” said Hussain Ali Khan, a Badakhshan, and corridor even more ranger training consultant for the Wildlife people here took important. It’s a good Conservation Service in Afghanistan. “The his death especially fit, especially given the security situation in Afghanistan is difficult. hard. In the days locals commitment to Other areas are bad. But in Wakhan, it is very immediately following Sarfraz Khan and his staff tour the educating women and good, the best.” the assassination, construction of Kipkut High School. girls. Tawalkhali Shah, village leader in Yuzuk, official business came “Educating boys and said, “I am an Ismaili Muslim and I am happy to a halt, schools were closed and the region girls, both is important, there is no difference,” when guests come to my house and see my mourned. said Haji Baig Khan, leader of Pigish village. family, see which kind of position we are in. “Rabbani was a mujahidin who fought for “Other places, people are afraid of Taliban Some Muslims don’t let foreigners come in peace and he has been killed,” said Muzhda, because if they send their daughters to school, their homes. But here in the Wakhan, this is 18, a student at CAI’s Ishkashim Girls’ Higher they beat or kill them. But here, no problem. OK. You are my guest, my daughter. Secondary School. “Most of the people of We want our daughters in school and CAI is “You are visiting all of the Wakhan, Afghanistan are living in sorrow right now for already helping us with that. We hope you will looking at many kinds of people, seeing much him.” stay with us and we are not doing this alone.” suffering. This is our life. We are very poor As a mujahidin (freedom fighter) Rabbani people. But we are strong and we don’t allow fought the Soviets in the 1980s and later Endless need Talib and Al Qaeda fighting in our area. You led the mainly Tajik Jamiat-e-Islami group In Ishkashim, at the western end of the should tell American people that Wakhis want against the Taliban. He was a hero, albeit a Wakhan, families have responded to CAI’s peace. We are much thankful to all American complicated one. construction of girls’ schools with amazing donors and CAI for the great help you bring to “Now we are much angry because Rabbani enthusiasm. CAI has built five schools, my village. We need you.” was a very nice person, he tried to bring peace including three girls’ high schools, in Students at CAI’s Ishkashim Girls’ Higher Secondary School gather after classes in front of a 14-room addition completed in 2010 next to the 18-room school built in 2008. Enrollment reached 1,074 in 2011.10 | Journey of Hope
  • 11. Baba Tangi Mountain, at 21,374 feet, towers over the village of Karat, home of CAI’s Baba Tangi Women’s Center, which is visible in the lower right of this photo. Momo, secretary of CAI’s Baba Tangi Women’s Vocational Center. The women show some of their handicrafts in front of the building.Ishkashim since 2008 and enrollment just go out of the home. So now, when they have – the list goes on and on. And it is no wonder.keeps increasing. the opportunity to go to school, especially Nobody else is working here. “These Ishkashim people understand the females, they have a strong interest.” In Sust, after village leaders toured the newidea of education for their daughters,” Sarfraz The overwhelming community response to school with Sarfraz, they asked for a pipelinesaid. the 32-room higher-secondary school has also from a mountain spring to the village. The biggest project is CAI’s Ishkashim served as a valuable lesson for CAI – girls’ high In Ishkashim, a group of Sunni men cameHigher Secondary School. Sarfraz, his crew schools will fill up, and fill up fast. to the CAI house/office to ask for help with aand the community built an 18-room school in “In Wakhan, all people – teachers, village, mosque. “It is impossible for CAI to help with2008. It filled up immediately. So CAI built a families, government – say CAI should please religious projects,” Sarfraz told them. “Like14-room addition in 2010. come here to build high schools for girls,” Sahi, the governor told the people of Khandud last “For five years the government has been the education director, said. “In many areas year, ‘A masjid (mosque) is not an NGO jobbuilding a library right there,” behind the there are no high schools for girls and that’s or government job. This should be paid byschool, Sarfraz said. “But the workers must be why our daughters don’t have good education, people from their own pocket.’ If you need avery lazy. We built both of these schools and why there are no women teachers or nurses or school, a vocational center or water project,the government library still isn’t finished.” doctors. So that’s why CAI schools are nice.” I can help you. But we can’t do this kind of Enrollment at the school has reached 1,074 So nice, in fact, that every village wants one, project.”students – all girls, said headmaster Akha or they want a bigger one. The requests for In Pigish, where CAI just built a four-roomBaig. help never seem to abate. addition to turn the 12-room school into a “This is the best maktab (school) in the CAI built a 12-room school in Kali-Panj high school, headmaster Daulat Baig said theWakhan,” he boasted. “These girls are the first in 2004, for example. “Now we request, villagers want more.generation educated in Ishkashim and they are please, four classrooms more,” Headmaster “If possible, we need help for drinkinggetting a good education here.” Saeed Qudi said in September. “If you are water,” he said. “We have a spring-water pipe, Families are motivated to educate their making these additional classrooms, all of our but the number of people is increasing anddaughters as a way to build bridges to a better problems will be solved.” it is not enough. Also, we have some veryfuture, said Muzhda, the 12th grader. Down the road in Kipkut, CAI is building a poor students; if possible, can you give them “Afghanistan is full of problems,” she said. nine-room high school. “It’s not even finished scholarships for study in Kabul and Faisabad?“People are not living in good conditions. and people want more classrooms,” Sarfraz And we need teacher training, if possible, fromPeople are not living in peace and security. said. “I say wait and see.” your organization. Especially English training.Afghanistan has been at war for generations Village leaders ask for more classrooms, Also, our women would like a vocationaland before women did not have permission to more teachers, teacher training, better books center.” Fall 2011 | 11
  • 12. come here, with arguing and nobody working, I will be much angry and lock the door.” Audible sighs of relief filled the room. “These things only get resolved when Sarfraz Khan comes to the village,” Nigar said. “Tashakur (Thank you), sir.” Other kinds of projects Education remains CAI’s predominant mission in the Wakhan. But since its inception, CAI has stepped in to help in other ways, too. The dearth of basic human services in the remote areas where CAI works has led to creative solutions. After all, clean drinking water, health workers and even community meeting halls bolster education efforts. “Students can’t focus on school lessons if their stomach is empty, they are sick or there’s a bad situation at home,” Sarfraz said. “When people have jobs and food and no disease, when they have good health and don’t worry about other things, they focus on education.” The women’s vocational centers, for example, give women a chance to earn some CAI health worker Lal Bono, left, checks on a neighbor’s sick baby boy, named Muladad, who money to spend as they wish – and most was having stomach problems. His mother Laila is holding him. spend it on their kids. Plus, having money can be empowering in other, sometimes Planting a seed local support. Within a few weeks, a dirt unexpected, ways. Women’s vocational centers are a common runway was in place. “We are much happy and much success,” request. In Shkhwar, where CAI built a school Sarfraz had an idea for the women. “You Bakh Begum, a member of the Khandud in 2010, the elders asked Sarfraz about the need to set up a shop next to the airstrip. You women’s center, said as she spun wool into status of the center he promised when CAI could sell handicrafts, tea and some food. yarn. “We can buy soap to wash our clothes, laid the first stone for the new school. Maybe CAI could build one small shop. What and money for tea and other things we need. Sarfraz saw a chance to bargain a little. “In do you think?” Before we had nothing like your school there are only 122 students,” he He had planted a seed. this, women were always said. “This is a two-village school, there should But before the women looking to men. Now be 300 or 400 students.” were ready to think ahead, men come to us asking for Headmaster Jaffar Kuhl said, “Tashakur they wanted some help loans.” (Thank you), Sarfraz Khan, for the school. with something else. A In the Wakhan, villagers Before we asked government so many times, few weeks earlier, a trader have also come to rely on but they are no help to us. Now I am trying for had come to the center CAI’s health workers. more students, I am trying.” and offered to buy some One day in late Sarfraz replied, “OK. First we get more fabric for the women September, health worker students in the school, then we check village on his next trip to the Lal Bono, 25, walked from and see whether women want to work city. The women agreed. her home in Sarhad to a together. If they do, we can start the project. Good fabric is hard to neighbor’s to check on For next year, we will check.” come by in the Wakhan. a sick 9-month-old boy One of CAI’s first Wakhan centers is in But when the trader named Muladad. The Karat, in the shadow of the mountain locals returned several weeks infant was having stomach call Baba Tangi. But while the 45 “regulars” later, he presented a paltry problems. at the center are making beautiful, traditional amount of fabric and said, “He is sick for six or handicrafts, there is no place to sell them. “Here you go,” according Parveen Varghand, CAI health- seven days,” said his “No tourists come this way because the to Momo, the center’s worker, at her home in Wargeant. grandfather, Rhamad Ali. main road is on the other side of the (Panj secretary. “He cries all the time. We River) and people here on village side have no “The man was a thief,” explained Khayal are poor people. We have no money to take money,” said Nigar, a spokeswoman for the Baig, a village leader who helps the center. “He him to Ishkashim or Kabul to see a doctor.” group. finished the money and we only got this,” he Ali presides over a clan of 23 people, In 2009, CAI and the village also built a said, gesturing to a couple bolts of cloth on the three generations who live communally in a small airstrip here to accommodate small floor of the center. smoky, mud-brick house. Traditional living planes flown by PacTech, a charity that The incident had left the women broke and arrangements, lack of sanitation and basic transports staff members of NGOs around demoralized and the center’s work had slowed hygiene, plus malnutrition, ignorance and Afghanistan. For a decade, large NGOs to a virtual standstill. Sarfraz said that was poverty contribute to the preponderance of and aid agencies had touted the benefit of unacceptable. disease. People work with the animals then go establishing a runway in the Wakhan to help “You must divide this material among all the into the kitchen and eat without washing their promote tourism and conservation efforts women’s houses and then don’t make the same hands. A mother wipes her child’s runny nose and provide medical relief. But it never mistake again,” he told them. “Then you get with her scarf, then later dries her hands with materialized – until PacTech approached CAI back to work, you make money and become the same cloth. Pots and pans, bowls and plates co-founder Greg Mortenson to help mobilize good people. If it is still like that next time I are washed with unboiled water and no soap.12 | Journey of Hope
  • 13. The result is that nearly everyone in the mortality. The average life expectancy for isolation and harsh surroundings have leftWakhan seems to be fighting some kind of women is 45 years, and many of those years them on the edge of survival and, in someailment – a runny nose, rotten teeth, high are spent bearing and raising children. Afghan cases, “vulnerable to drug addiction.”blood pressure, arthritis, diarrhea or eye women bear an average of six children, and Yet their future is brighter now that theyinfections. one in every 11 women dies giving birth. have access to education. “There is so much sickness,” Bono said. Parveen, herself a mother of four children, “Schooling will broaden their horizons, In the case of the little boy, she said, “I said she is working hard to help change that especially for girls, and if done properly willalready gave him some medicine, some syrup, reality. In Wargeant, “I work to make sure no help them to be proud of their heritage whileand that helped a little. But I need to watch women die anymore giving birth. Just one sharing in the best – rather than the worst – ofhim.” week ago I took a woman who was having a the outside world,” he said. A graduate of CAI’s girls’ high school in difficult delivery to Khandud, to a small clinic, Building the necessary relationships tookZuudkuhn, Pakistan, who also participated in for help,” she said. Khandud isn’t particularly time and the school had a slow start, butCAI’s 2009 midwife training, Bono and her far as the crow flies, but travel in the Wakhan Sarfraz said the Kyrgyz are now invested.family moved to Sarhad two years ago when can be inordinately difficult. “We worked on this for more than 10 yearsSarfraz asked for her help. She is of Wakhi “No one there could help,” she said. “So I from when Greg met them in Charpusandescent and speaks the language. took her in the other direction, to Ishkashim. [Pakistan],” he said. “For many years we gave “She and her husband came here with Now she is alive and her baby is alive.” them help and some food. We talked withnothing, no house, nothing,” Sarfraz said as he them to make friendship and build trust. Nowheaved a 50-pound bag of rice out of his truck. New horizons in Bozoi they have a school and are happy.”“We built this house and we give her medicine Despite the poverty and neglect, isolation This fall, before the snow began to fly – thefor helping the people here. We bring some and ill health, people in this remote area are Little Pamir is snow-covered for more thanfood, too.” amazingly generous and hospitable. six months every year – the Kyrgyz rolled up He has made similar arrangements for Pilkington called his travels in the region, the CAI yurts and stored them in the schoolParveen Varghand, 29, and her family in “the most difficult, exciting, terrifying, building for the winter, Sarfraz said.Wargeant. “Here, too, people have no money thought-provoking and occasionally comical” “Then next June – or maybe May, if there’sto travel for medical attention,” Sarfraz said. that he’d had in a long time. But “wherever not much snow this winter – we’ll take them“They have Parveen. She can help with blood I came across Wakhi villages or Kyrgyz out and start again,” Sarfraz said. “Maybepressure check, stomach problems, headaches encampments, people came out to meet me next year the other children will see and tell– all kinds” of maladies. with smiles and bowls of milk or yogurt.” their parents, ‘I want to go there.’ And then in CAI’s health workers were first installed in The Kyrgyz, in particular, have a history 2012 we can collect many more students inhopes of helping to curb maternal and infant of proud independence, he said, but their Bozoi.” = SARFRAz KHANChildren carry desks and chairs into some of the eight yurts delivered to Bozoi Gumbad in the summer of 2011 to be used as classrooms, anda hostel for students, whose families are nomadic. Fall 2011 | 13
  • 14. Visions of Hope SARFRAz KHAN C entral Asia Institute co- founder Greg Mortenson traveled to Tajikistan and Afghanistan in November 2011 to visit projects and reconnect with the people who in geology in Russia and she is raising their son on her own in his absence. / In Ishkashim, at the western end of Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor, I stopped to see CAI’s girls’ higher secondary school. the women in two shifts, morning and afternoon, six days a week, and many more women still aspire to attend after their husband’s approval. The women primarily want to make clothing to sell in the local Saturday market, inspire his humanitarian work. The girls aspire to be everything from instead of indigenous handicrafts, which He filed the following field reports and doctors to teachers to engineers to pilots to may appeal to foreigners, but are difficult president of Afghanistan. to market since only a few dozen foreigners photos at the end of his journey. visit the Wakhan annually. Most of the girls’ mothers are illiterate or / uneducated; a rough survey in this school / In the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous found that only 10 percent of the girls had Zarmina is a new kind of scholarship Oblast of eastern Tajikistan, I visited educated mothers, which makes 90 percent student for CAI. This young married potential school sites and met key players on of them the first generation of educated woman with four children will be the first CAI’s Tajik team, including Mehbuba. females in their families. woman from the Wakhan to attend a two- Mehbuba has many years of experience in The girls’ overwhelming request was year advanced maternal-healthcare training the NGO and development sector and is not to have more sport activities, including program. CAI will move her and her family afraid to keep corrupt government officials volleyball, judo, badminton, and running. to Faizabad, the capital of Badakhshan in line. She’s also fluent in Russian, Tajik / Province, early next year for the training. and English and feels all children should Forty-nine women are already using A high school graduate who worked as learn three or four languages in school, as CAI’s Oin Gardhi Women’s Vocational an apprentice midwife in her community, the world is becoming a global society. Center in Ishkashim. The popularity of Zarmina ran into major obstacles taking her Her husband is pursuing graduate studies the center means it must accommodate next step. When she declared she wanted to continue her studies and not just stay home and be a mother, her father-in-law disowned her. Greg Mortenson After they were thrown out of the house, “learns to count” with Zarmina and her husband Fareed had to go first-grade students door to door in the village selling firewood. at one of CAI’s four During that period Zarmina began to notice schools in the zebak the high maternal-mortality rate, infant District of Badakhshan malnutrition and diseases and decided she Province, Afghanistan, wanted the skills to help. in November 2011. Badakhshan has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, Mortenson poses about 6,000 deaths per 100,000 live births, with some of the compared to 14 deaths/100,000 live births women who use in the U.S. the Oin Gardhi / Women’s Vocational At a CAI girls’ school in Zebak, I learned Center in Ishkashim, to count with the first-grade class. The Afghanistan. school has over 680 girls enrolled as of this SARFRAz KHAN14 | Journey of Hope
  • 15. Greg Mortenson visits CAI’s Kali Mira women’s center on Nov. 15, 2011, in Afghanistan. SARFRAz KHAN zarmina with Mortenson, Safraz Khan (kneeling), Juma (CAI’s Wakhan supervisor), Hamid (driver) and her four children. WAKIL KARIMIfall and they come in two shifts due to therapid enrollment increase. Zebak was an area of significantfighting during the Soviet occupation ofAfghanistan (1979-1989) and many of themen from that area who were mujahidin(freedom fighters) were killed and thewomen fled to refugee camps in Pakistan. / I visited CAI’s Kali Mira Women’sLiteracy Center near Kabul. These centersare predominantly in conservative areaswhere women have difficulties being inpublic or the ulema (religious leaders) putstrict limits on women being outside theirhomes. About two-thirds of the women atKali Mira wear burkas in public. I met Alia, a middle-aged woman who SARFRAz KHANsaid she was thrilled to be enrolled, even Students at CAI’s Ishkashim High School gather around Mortenson,though she is the last person in her family to Headmaster Ata Baig and Regional Education Inspector Mudhirlearn to read and write. Khabir in November 2011. The emphasis with the literacy centersis not on buildings, but on finding highlyqualified instructors, who take exams andare observed teaching before being hired. Asper government policy, the teachers make5,000 afghani (about $100) a month. CAIhas over 20 such centers in the Kabul area. / Also in Kabul, I had tea with Mariam, anoutstanding second-year medical studentat Spin Ghar University. She is on a CAI WAKIL KARIMIscholarship to fulfill her dream to becomean ob-gyn doctor. Greg Mortenson and Mariam, a CAI scholarship student studying to be a Mariam is from Naray District in Kunar doctor, visit in Kabul.Province, where she graduated from highschool despite great adversity. During herearly years, the Taliban were in control and SARFRAz KHANshe had to study in secret, as the Taliban did Mortenson and Mehbuba review a 15-pagenot allow girls to go to school. contract estimate for a 14-room school in She is the first female educated in Naray zhamag village, in the Vanj Valley of easternto attend medical school. = Tajikistan’s Pamir Mountains. Fall 2011 | 15
  • 16. Barswat school teacher Muhammad Qadir Shah helps a student with a math problem. CAI added a five-classroom building to a community school in this high-mountain village in northwest Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan. Hope trumps fear ghizer District: ‘soft corner for extremists’ Ghizer GHIZER DISTRICT, Pakistan – chairman of the women’s organization. Residents of Halter-Yasim village in the CAI and Gich then joined forces to build the Gich Women’s far northwest corner of Pakistan were thrilled Vocational Center. Work began in April. AN when the national government announced it In Phander village in the Gupis Valley, 600 students are crammed ST would build a primary school for their children. into six classrooms, an unsustainable situation that makes teaching and KI That was 12 years learning difficult, said CAI’s Gilgit Project PA ago. The government Manager Saidullah Baig. never built the school. The community requested CAI’s help “We know without expanding the school, but hasn’t been education there is no life, able to get the land on which to build, so imagine how we are feeling Saidullah said. about ourselves without education,” says “If they can get land, we can help. We Maqsud Aman, chairman of Halter’s are ready,” he said. education committee. Despite unreliable electric and Then Halter’s elders heard about telephone service and the absence of a Central Asia Institute. They wrote a postal service and Internet here in the letter. And this spring CAI and the valleys of the Hindu Kush Mountains villagers started construction of a co-ed near the Afghan border, people seize on primary school in Halter to serve three news that a humanitarian organization is neighboring villages in the Yasim Valley, offering help. Ghizer District Workers smooth walls of CAI’s Gich Women’s “This will be the first primary school in Vocational Center in the Yasin Valley. Rising militancy any of these villages,” Aman said. CAI has been working in Ghizer Word spread quickly. District for three years – building schools and vocational centers, A group of women who had organized in Gich (Punyal Valley) a few expanding existing schools and providing basic health care services. years ago to make some money for themselves and their families was “CAI is the only NGO that starts from the remote areas like this kicked out of the house it was renting in 2009. The women spent more where no other NGO is working,” Saidullah said. “That is the great than a year trying to regroup. thinking of [CAI co-founder] Greg Mortenson.” “Then we heard about CAI from somebody who saw you driving In the case of Ghizer District, it was also the determination of CAI’s up and down the road and so we asked for your help,” said Parita Wos, Faisal Baig. Faisal is the primary reason the organization began working16 | Journey of 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
  • 17. here. He warned that without education, the NGO, we try to strengthen that,” said Baig, a Safe and close to homelocal population risked exploitation by radical thin, earnest man who has worked with CAI In nearby Teru, CAI’s addition of five roomsIslamist groups moving north toward Ghizer. for more than a decade. “Before, they were to the middle school in 2010 has made room “This is a soft corner for extremists,” managing two or three classes in one room. for a high school, making life significantlySaidullah said. “And if the world, the Western But CAI can help remove such problems and easier for the village girls.people, even Pakistan do not focus on this strengthen these schools.” “If this school was not here, we would havearea, it is not far off that there will be terrorists Before CAI came here to help in 2010, to spend three hours walking every day,” saidin this area. That’s why when Faisal and I Barswat School was overcrowded and Shakeela Begum, a 17-year-old ninth-grader. “Iobserve that this is going on, we decided to understaffed, with 150 students in four am happy to be at this school and really happystart our education projects.” classrooms and just two teachers. it is not so far to walk.” At a glance, the villages in Ghizer look like “We built four classrooms here in 2010,” Head teacher Mohammad Rahim Shah ledany others in Gilgit-Baltistan: mud-brick Saidullah said as he walked up to the school a room-by-room tour of the school in May. Hehomes surrounded by stone walls, terraced in May. “It just opened this spring; the new said that having 10 classrooms instead of fivefields latticed with irrigation channels, rows session started May 1.” has made a huge difference for the 300-plusof small shops selling everything from penny Now that the overcrowding issue has been students and 11 teachers. “Now we finallycandy to motor oil. At almost any time of day, addressed, CAI is working on the overworked- have enough space,” he said. “We are verycars and trucks struggle to maintain forward teachers issue. comfortable and very happy.”motion on the narrow roads, dodging herds of Head teacher Muhammad Qadir Shah CAI pays two teachers here. Yet despite theskittish goats and sheep, donkeys loaded down grew up in Barswat and for the past 10 years majority female student body, all the teacherswith winter wheat or wood for cooking fires, has been the person largely responsible for are men. Shah explained: “In this villageand children darting to and fro. keeping the school open. “I came back here to before, no women were educated to a high- The region is neglected and run down. teach. The need is so great,” he said. school level. After finishing class eight, girlsThe people are mostly illiterate and poor. But he and Barswat’s other teacher have got married and started having babies.”In many places, the ubiquitous wild rose been stretched thin. Shah juggles the primary But times are changing.bushes provide the only bursts of colors in an classes, one to five, while his colleague teaches Shakeela said she hopes to be a nurse or anotherwise gray-brown landscape. the older students in classes six to eight. engineer. “There is lots of poverty in this area Look closer, though, and the influence They get the kids in one classroom started on so it would be helpful if girls could work andof conservative Islamic groups becomes lessons, then head to the next classroom and help their families,” she said.apparent. You can see it in people’s dress, the then the next, returning to check on students’ Yasmin, 16, is a science student in ninthmen’s long beards, the political graffiti and the progress every 15 to 20 minutes. class at Teru School and also wants to be apreponderance of mullahs promoting virulent Before school started this spring, CAI nurse. Her father died 16 years ago and sherhetoric under the false auspices of Islam. agreed to pay for a third teacher and Shah was wants to work to help her family and her Violent insurgents, forced out of the largely excited to tell Saidullah that he had narrowed country. “But only if I get an education will Iungoverned tribal areas by the government the applicants down to three finalists. be able to do something.”and U.S. and allied forces, are shifting Saidullah said, “Hire two of them, not just CAI’s commitment to a village, however,northward in Pakistan along the Afghan one. CAI will pay them both. I have observed doesn’t end with construction. Saidullahborder, bringing their training camps and your problem. You need more teachers and we told Shah and the teachers: “Our aim isstrict ideology with them. can help.” to strengthen the education. If you need “The influence of the extremists is coming Relief was written all over Shah’s face. something, notify me.”to these areas because these areas are very “CAI is a great institution in the world and So the headmaster asked about a sciencepoor,” Saidullah said. “If a person is poor and you help us meet a great need in our village,” lab. Saidullah said there are only a handful ofnot getting food, if somebody is dying without Shah said, smiling, his right hand on his heart. science students, not enough to merit suchfood, he tries to get food at any cost,” including “We thank you.” an investment given all the other requests insigning up as a militant. Education, especially for women, is a keytool in fighting that equation, he said. High in the mountains In mid-May, snow remains on the groundin Barswat, the last village on the road beforeShandur Pass, high in the Hindu Kushmountains. “Winters here are very hard,” Saidullah said. If you stay on the road past Barswat andgo over Shandur Pass, it is a relatively shortdistance north or west to Afghanistan. It’s aroad less traveled. CAI’s approach in two villages here in theGupis River Valley – Barswat and Teru – hasbeen to improve the small, overcrowdedprimary schools built a decade earlier bythe Aga Khan Foundation. CAI has addedclassrooms, constructed bathrooms andboundary walls and pays the salaries of at leasttwo teachers at each school. “Our aim is to educate the people, so ifthere is already a system going on, whetherby community or government or another Local men provide free and subsidized labor for Damal Gam Elementary School in Yasin Valley. Fall 2011 | 17
  • 18. Students on the playground during morning recess at Teru High School, where CAI added a five-classroom building (left rear) in 2010 for high school students. the valley. “If the number of science students have come so far, and are not worried about Swat residents, the New York Times reported increases to 15 or 20, then you can apply for a your life in this terrorism situation. You risked in November 2010. Pakistan says it has laboratory. Let’s wait and see.” your lives to come here.” repeatedly driven out violent militants, His sentiments reflect a growing sense of but they keep returning. And local leaders ‘Terrorism situation’ urgency in Ghizer about creeping militancy. predict the government inaction is creating a Over in Barkolti in the Yasim River Valley, Ghizer borders generation of young CAI is using the same formula it applied in the the North West people susceptible to Gupis Valley schools – adding classrooms to a Frontier Province, Taliban recruitment. primary/middle school and paying additional where militants teachers to allow the village to offer co-ed have run roughshod Economic education through high school. over local people realities And just as in Teru, the teachers begged for and government Yet the Taliban are a science lab. “It is a burning issue,” “a critical as their influence just part of Pakistan’s demand,” “a dire need,” for students who want has spread. almost overwhelming to go into medicine and engineering, they told The Pakistan litany of woes. Feudal Saidullah. government’s efforts social structures, But Saidullah is pragmatic. The first order to intervene have government of business in Barkolti is to get the classrooms proved insufficient. corruption, rolling built, he said. The head teacher, Kareem In Swat Valley, for electricity blackouts, Madad Shah, said he understood that first- example, President soaring food prices, things-first approach. Asif Ali Zardari CAI’s Gilgit Project Manager Saidullah Baig motor fuel and “We are very excited about your help,” Shah attempted to end (center) greets teachers and community natural gas shortages, tells Saidullah. “It has been very hard for us, the violent conflict members at the building site of CAI’s Barkolti overpopulation – classes are too crowded. But when this is done, by allowing the High School in Yasin River Valley. Pakistan just can’t we will have nine classrooms. In anticipation, Taliban leaders seem to catch a break. we have already started class nine.” there to impose Sharia (Islamic law) in 2009. Then add natural disaster to the mix. A Gulbaz Khan, the village education “This effectively empowered the Taliban deadly 2005 earthquake in Kashmir and the committee chairman, said CAI’s emphasis to impose its authority in the areas, which it epic flood of 2010 took enormous tolls on the on girls’ education will make a world of did through summary executions, including country’s poorest people and a government difference. Parents had been reluctant to allow beheadings of state officials and political unable to respond or rebuild. daughters to walk the 7 kilometers to the opponents, public whippings and large-scale The floods, the worst in Pakistan’s history, nearest girls’ high school. “Now we are able to intimidation of the population,” the nonprofit killed thousands of people and millions of give our daughters education,” he said. Human Rights Watch reported. farm animals and exposed the government’s An older gentleman who donated the land The horror continued until public outrage weaknesses through scattered, unreliable and for the project, Hazir Shah, was the first led to government reversal of the deal. A insufficient relief efforts. to greet Saidullah and his guests from the military operation ensued. An estimated “Events of recent months have shown how United States upon their arrival and the last 2 million people were displaced before the very deep-seated Pakistan’s problems are,” to say goodbye. Saidullah thanked him for his military finally declared Swat clear of Taliban James Traub wrote in the October 2010 issue contribution, but Hazir Shah demurred. insurgents. of Foreign Policy magazine. “The floods, “I was born here, so contributing to But “the absence of virtually any though an act of God, were enormously education is my thing to do for my village,” he government follow-through” has turned exacerbated by state failure.” said. “But you, I am very thankful for you. You hope for a better future “into despair” for In its defense, the government claimed18 | Journey of Hope
  • 19. it was broke, that the costs of flood relief support for women’s vocational centers likereconstruction plus the war on terrorism were the one in Gich (Punyal), along the main roadtoo much. Pakistan’s finance minister said the from Gilgit to Barswat. The women in Gicheconomy had been “teetering on the brink” had formed a cooperative a few years earlier,before the floods, but was headed for the said Parita Wos, president of the women’s“abyss.” center. The flooding actually began in the “Because of poverty, this valley suffers,”mountains of northern Pakistan. Months of Wos said. “That’s why the females try toheavy rain triggered flash floods and massive share a source of income. The profit is alwayslandslides. Some families lost everything – divided. Some women are saving their share.houses, land, animals. CAI stepped in with Most are spending it to help with theirdirect assistance to flood victims in villages children’s education. We are mothers.”where it works across Gilgit-Baltistan. Fathers, too, see the merits of investing in But the country’s economic woes have their sons and daughters. Mushtaq Hussain,not abated. In the past year, unemployment a Gilgit-Baltistan police constable based inrose, real wages dropped, food prices soared Skardu and a father of six, accompanied theand the number of people living in poverty CAI team in Gilgit-Baltistan in May.grew. “Families are taking children out of “I was really surprised when I saw soschool because they cannot afford both fees many CAI schools and the way kids talk andand food,” the New York Times reported their confidence in reading and writing andin February 2011. “Others choose between speaking,” he said.medicine and dinner.” In many parts of Gilgit-Baltistan, the government is not helping at all. In some Filling the gaps places there are government schools, but But life goes on. In Ghizer, people too poor “education is not really good,” he said.to evacuate picked up hand-tools and began “But education makes you a good humanclearing or rerouting roads, rebuilding bridges being, allows you to see the differenceand homes. between good and evil and make good CAI also held its course on projects, choices,” he said. “I am really happy aboutconvinced education remains the fundamental the education of kids through CAI. [Youingredient for a better future. are] giving opportunities to children they A student listens to her teacher in CAI’s This philosophy is exemplified by CAI’s otherwise would not have.” = Barswat School in Gupis Valley, Pakistan.CAl’s roots go deep ‘cream of the crop.’ We have 45 girls in Gilgit and some in Rawalpindi. … We also have a “About 10 years ago, in the beginning, we tried to hire a female teacher for our school,in Gilgit region good museum in Charpusan to preserve the but we couldn’t find one there,” he said. heritage of the area.” “Now we have girls who have graduated During the past dozen years, Central Asia The organization has also diversified its from our own school, plus the studentsInstitute has established nearly 50 projects in humanitarian efforts in response to natural whom we have given scholarships, and theynorthern Pakistan’s remote and mountainous disasters. In 2010, “we started work in the are coming back and getting employment inGilgit region. The projects include building Attabad landslide area” in the Hunza District, our schools and helping the community. Andschools, women’s vocational centers and Saidullah said. “We have set up tent schools, they are changing the community.a museum, helping existing government- given the IDPs [internally displaced persons] “As mothers, we are seeing studentsand community-run schools, training and supplies, food and even cash.” get married and have babies, now theypaying health-care workers and a scholarship And in the past three years, it has are taking better care. They have learnedprogram for girls seeking higher education. expanded into the Ghizer District. something about the babies. And we are “We live in such a remote area where the “We built 11 schools in Ghizer and five helping through our health-care workersgovernment was not doing anything,” said vocational centers,” he said. “And we have, to help control the birth rate, teach theSaidullah Baig, who has worked with CAI as you know, the unconditional disaster, the necessity of population control. A malesince 1999 when Mortenson first visited the flood. During that time there were more worker or doctor cannot educate thethen closed-off Charpusan Valley, where than 250 households affected in Ghizer female,” he said.Saidullah was born and raised. “When Greg Valley, people who saved their lives with just “And for the vocational training, when thatcame to our area, it was a difficult time the clothes on their backs. CAI was the first time for basic education is past, how can youbecause foreigners were not allowed.” charity that helped the people with cash, empower a woman who is illiterate? That “CAI started with a potable-water project. because if a person has money, he can buy is why we are focusing on the vocationalThis is the first seed for Charpusan. Now CAI his choice. We have given assistance to those centers for the woman.has completed seven buildings for schools households.” “So if the people get education, theyin Charpusan and we are working with Saidullah said the formula is simple: can serve other people and get jobsome government schools also, giving them “Education is the light and life of everybody.” opportunities. Parents are getting someteachers and supplies. We have also built Beyond that, the focus needs to be on good idea that maybe their kids’ lives will13 vocational centers [north of Gilgit]. We women’s empowerment, he said. be different than theirs. This is the effect ofhave seven health workers in the villages “Greg is always saying all the time, ‘If you the work of CAI, not only in Charpusan, butof Charpusan; we are paying for them and educate a boy, you educate an individual. If in Ghizer, Baltistan, Kashmir, Afghanistan.supplying medicine. you educate a girl, you educate a family.’” We are making change in these unfortunate “We have a scholarship program, which He ticked off a list of ways CAI has changed areas, these remote and neglected areas.”is on a need basis; we are not collecting the the region in that regard. – By Karin ronnow Fall 2011 | 19
  • 20. Documenting Hope: CAl’s School Survey BY KARIN RONNOW SKARDU, Pakistan – Al Abid Public School is a single-story, eight- project manager, Mohammad Nazir, whose room middle school with 280 students. Central meticulous bookkeeping records and signed Asia Institute helped build the school in 2004, receipts back up his story. pays two teachers’ salaries and provides school The school was turned over to the government supplies and building maintenance. a few years ago, but CAI is still helping and “Education increases awareness about keeping tabs on the school. In fact, a few months things and we are seeing that [with education] before the principal made his on-camera students are more punctual, clean, aware of their comments, CAI staff had visited the school, lessons,” Mohammad Hassan, the 23-year-old delivered supplies and handed out teacher vice principal, said in June. “That’s why we are bonuses. A photo from that visit of Al Abid thinking this school is better than the government students was on the cover of the 2010 Journey schools. We are really satisfied with the overall of Hope. education here. The parents, too, are satisfied “CAI pays two teachers’ salaries, and gave a with their children’s test scores. We, our whole bathroom, fresh whitewash (paint), furniture community, are thankful to Central Asia Institute.” and built another classroom in the stairwell But that is not what Al Abid’s principal told a this year” because the school needed cameraperson who claimed to be with an audit more space, Nazir said. “We are also giving team last spring. In a videotaped interview that stationary (notebooks, pencils, erasers later appeared on CBS News’ “60 Minutes,” he said and pencil sharpeners) for all students, and that CAI had built the school, then abandoned the teacher bonuses.” project. On June 1, Nazir went to Al Abid School to ask why the principal CAI has not abandoned Al Abid in any way, said CAI’s Baltistan – Mr. Mahmood – would say such things. Aliabad Tent School Bagardo Community School Barkolti High School Bien Primary School Chunda/Porters’ Memorial Girls’ Middle School Daltri Primary School Damal Gam Elementary School Darkut High School Daughoni Village Primary School Gilgit Scholarship Program Gircha Vocational Center Goma Pari Primary School Gulapur Girls’ Primary School Haji Ali Memorial Primary School Hemasil Primary School Hunder Shighatan Vocational Center Hyderabad School Ispanj Vocational Center Jafarabad Girls’ High School Lamian Patian Girls’ High School Majaweer Primary School Marzigon Girls’ Primary School Mian Channu Primary School Nar Girls’ Primary School Shithmarg Primary School Teru High School Tinjos Girls’ Primary School Zuudkhaan Vocational Center20 | Journey of Hope
  • 21. Mahmood wasn’t there. So Nazir sat down with Hassan and a and says CAI schools are bogus,” Sarfraz said. “That brings muchteacher. Outside in the schoolyard, students were taking their first- shame to our communities.term exams. “Maybe other people get jealous and say, ‘They are lying, there “Only the principal can answer your questions,” said Hassan, who is no school there.’ I will give you a list and I will show you all ourhas worked at the school for a year and confirmed that CAI has schools and also vocational centers. You can check. Then next yearcontinued to support the school. “I have no information about that.” if I die or can’t come, then you know I did my job, the schools are Later he added that the principal had been feuding with the complete, no tricks. We can show that these schools are real.”community education committee, but declined to elaborate. The overseas project survey involved visiting schools and construction sites; meeting with teachers and village leaders; and Overseas projects reviewing managers’ accounting records, documents, community After CAI projects are established, oversight is the responsibility contracts and government reports. The school visits andof CAI’s in-country managers, who maintain contact with schools recordkeeping were videotaped and photographed.and make regular visits. But the situation with Al Abid underscored CAI staff and advisors verified student and teacher numbersthe need to verify the status of every project on CAI’s master and checked the condition of existing buildings, playgroundproject list. So in 2011, CAI amped up its efforts to document all its equipment and bathrooms. Lists were made of needs and wants.projects in Pakistan and Afghanistan. And many, many cups of tea, later, CAI has an updated master list The project managers were thrilled to show off their work. plus a more streamlined system to document all CAI projects and a “You need to see the schools,” said Sarfraz Khan, who manages means to account for future changes.projects in Pakistan, Afghanistan and is breaking trail for new In conjunction with the survey, CAI’s managers crafted a planCAI projects in Tajikistan. “This is not my money, all is CAI donor to put greater emphasis on its human resources – teacher paymoney.” and training – and less on “bricks and mortar” in coming years. The managers were confused and angry about the conflicting That initiative was launched with across-the-board teacher payforeign media reports on CAI’s projects. increases in Pakistan this fall – with the new range being from “International journalists visit our schools and see that they are 8,000 to 15,000 rupees per month (about $92 to $173), dependinggood, and CBS sends a secret cameraman who says he is an auditor on experience and education. Fall 2011 | 21
  • 22. Checking it twice Baba Tangi High School In the course of checking Bazghir Girls’ High School existing projects, Bozoi Gumbad Primary School Nazir explained his system for Chilkant Middle School keeping projects on track from the Dhan Dustikhan High School beginning. “Once we agree to work with the Dowab Primary School community, we Gumran Girls’ School look at the land the community is Ishkashim Girls’ High School donating and see if it is feasible or not,” he said. “If feasible, at that time Jamia-Taghab Primary School we can have architect visit the site to see the land and Kali-Panj Higher Secondary School check the position of how the building shape should be on this location. “After we get the map (blueprints), we can check all government-required things – the cement ratio and Kamiri Girls’ High School iron bar size and such like that. Then we release some Kharmani Primary School advance money to the village heads with which we have been dealing and deliver materials.” Kharundalo-e-Jurm High School As the building starts to go up, “the engineer and me, with the community, we check in at different stages – at Khushpak Girls’ High School the foundation stage, the beam-pillar stage and then Kipkut High School the final stage – to keep the pressure on,” he said. “And I always pay after they finish the work. If they cannot finish, they have no pay. So they work hard and are Kuchi Tent School careful so we don’t reject their work.” A streamlined version of that is used for ongoing Lalander Primary School maintenance, too, he said. The system works. Requests for new projects, Lalander Water Project expanded projects and partnerships with mountain Mahmodan High School communities land in Nazir’s lap every week, he said. “Eighty percent of Baltistan know Dr. Greg, what he Mirad Khawja Middle School has built and the help he give in this region,” Nazir said. “The people have much respect for Greg and pray for his health and his family.” Musakhil Girls’ Primary School Next chapter Namazgha Girls’ High School After talking with Hassan, the CAI survey team went out to the Al Abid schoolyard, where all the children Payan Shahr Girls’ High School were sitting in neat rows. Nazir had hung a Pennies for Pushgar Girls’ Primary School Peace banner behind a table stacked high with new notebooks, erasers, pencils, pencil sharpeners and Raheshet Primary School pencil cases. All the supplies had been bought with P4P funds. And every student received one of each. Although Al Abid is now a government school, it is Rahmadad Girls’ Primary School largely supported by student fees, which range from 250 rupees for girls to 500 rupees for the older boys. Rubat High School That money, combined with CAI’s support has enabled Shaikiran Girls’ High School the community to hire additional teachers. But the fee money doesn’t go far. Shesht High School “We need more teachers,” Hassan said. “I also request CAI help us build more classrooms, bring electricity to Shkhawr School the school and supply computers and more desks.” Nazir replied, “Inshallah, we can build two more rooms upstairs as soon as possible. Also we will pay two Sufion Primary School more teachers starting now.” Hassan was happy. “I want this school to be one of Suna Gal Primary School the best in Baltistan. We are working really hard for that Tergaran Girls’ High School and we are thankful to CAI for helping.” = Wark High School For more information, see Cai’s Master Project List at www.ikat.org Zebak Girls’ Middle School22 | Journey of Hope
  • 23. Fall 2011 | 23
  • 24. Girls attend class in a makeshift classroom at Mir Afghan Girls’ School in Kabul Province. Their new 12-room CAI school is under construction nearby. Hope Amid War AN IS N T Central afghan communities seek education as path to peace G H A Kabul AF KABUL, Afghanistan – Mullah Taukal fought the first school ever in this village. hard to get a primary school built in Batyash “Now sometimes the Taliban come to check the curriculum to see village in eastern Kunar if anything is wrong. ‘What do you teach here?’ Province, right in the thick of they ask. But if they try to stop the school, the Taliban territory. elders stop them. Now our daughters are in school “When we started to work, three or four because of the force of the local people; in our area, times the Taliban came and stopped the work – the Taliban cannot object,” he said. because we allow girls,” said Taukal, 36, Batyash’s Batyash and CAI built the 10-classroom, two- leader and now headmaster of the school his story, co-ed primary school in 2010, said Wakil village built with help from Central Asia Institute. Karimi, CAI’s Central, Southern and Eastern “One Taliban gave me small sheet of paper that Afghanistan program manager. “They got it done is stronger than 10 papers signed by [Afghan by the power of the people.” President Hamid] Karzai,” he said, pulling a slip of It wasn’t easy. Kunar is a “very remote, paper from his pocket. “I keep this with me.” dangerous area” near the rugged 1,500-mile- The handwritten note was in Pashto and signed long border with Pakistan, Karimi explained. It by the “Islamic government,” or Afghan Taliban. is a mountainous, forested area with few roads, “Salaam Aliekum. Kindly we tell you (that) you plenty of places to hide and no central authority. shouldn’t work on this school. You should stop. Delivering building materials for the school was Before we told you (that) you shouldn’t work difficult. But extremists presented the larger and you again started. If anything happens, all obstacle. responsibility will be with you.” “My village is a two-hour walk from the Pakistan But the village was determined, he said. border,” Taukal said in a September interview in “We made a jirga (meeting of community Kabul. “When you go to the top of the mountain, elders) and decided to fight the Taliban to allow us you can see all Pakistan. There is no check post to make a school,” he said. “I and another villager there – no nothing – so it is easy to cross. That’s went to the Taliban base and talked to the leaders. Mullah Taukal holds a letter from the problem. And security is not good because We told them, ‘If you reject school, you cannot insurgents warning him not to build a government doesn’t have control in that area, so come to our village.’ Then they allowed the school, school in Kunar Province. local people have to try to control.”24 | Journey of 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
  • 25. He said Kunar hasn’t had an effective women’s clothes, it pays money. I love school do is try to provide a good school.”government since Afghan King Mohammed and I want an education because I want to help Afghanistan is one of the poorest countriesZahir Shah was ousted in 1973. These days, my family and make a future for myself. But I on Earth. Most people live in mud-brickthree militant Islamic groups operate in the am the oldest and my brothers are too young houses without electricity, potable drinkingregion: the Pakistan Taliban, Afghanistan to work.” water or heat – even in Kabul. More than threeTaliban and Hekmatyr. The center provides free education to decades of war and a 75 percent illiteracy Given the heavy extremist presence in the children in crisis, and the waiting list is rate mean that only about 20 percent of theregion, Karimi said it helps that Taukal is also long. Karimi built the bright orange, two- population is employed, in the traditionala mullah in the local mosque. story school here as a computer and literacy sense of the word, doing day labor, domestic “People have much respect for him,” Karimi center, and those classes for all ages meet on service, government office work, teaching orsaid. “And he is educated. He knows school the second floor. The first floor is dedicated driving. Some families run small shops. And inis better for our children. So when the Talib to a middle school serving the neediest some regions there are jobs making carpets orcome and say, ‘This school comes from United neighborhood children. bricks or helping the international aid groups.States money; you should not work with US, The teachers and administrators have But 80 percent of the population get by aswith NGOs or with Afghan government,’ learned to be sensitive to the effects of war and subsistence herders and farmers, growinghe can do work on both sides. He can say poverty on their students’ lives. The stress in wheat, fruit, nuts, and, sometimes, opium.education is important for our children.” 11-year-old Basir’s life, for example, sometimes And if that isn’t enough to weigh, myriad Taukal said he is not afraid to argue with the leaves him speechless. “Sometimes when he other problems confront people on a dailyIslamic extremists. comes under pressure, he thinks about his basis in Afghanistan. The government is “As headmaster, I can stand against problems and cannot talk,” said Jamal Uden, largely considered corrupt and politicallythem. When any Taliban come, I ask them, principal at the CAI center. illegitimate. There is a thriving black market‘Where is it written that girls are not allowed Basir explained that his mother is for drugs, arms and even other people. Theeducation?’ The Holy Koran says educated uneducated and his father broke his back and roads are dangerous. The environment isand uneducated people are not equal and it cannot walk. devastated. The people are edgy.is important to come out from ignorance and “Nobody can work,” he said. “My uncle So it came as little surprise when Savehave an open mind.” from my mother’s side brings us food. I have the Children announced last winter that But he refused to have his photo taken. three younger brothers and one older sister. I Afghanistan is the worst place in the world to“If Taliban see my picture they will kill me,” am the oldest and I have nobody to help. But be a mother. The life expectancy of an Afghanhe said, drawing his index finger across his if I study, I get education and get job and solve woman is just 45 years, the world’s lowest; onethroat. economics problem and help with my family.” of every 11 women dies in childbirth; and one Karimi, who had been translating, looked of every five children dies before age 5. In 86 Education is light at the floor, shook his head and said, “We have percent of births, women have no help from a Although the fighting gets most of the such poor people here. Sometimes my heart is midwife or doctor.attention, extremism is just one piece of the just breaking.” By comparison, Norway is the best place inpuzzle in Afghanistan. Poverty looms just as Yet while it hurts to hear such stories, the world to be a mother, according to Save thelarge – and just as deadly. Afghans are also resilient. Children. Norwegian women’s life expectancy In the overcrowded capital of Kabul, “All Afghan people are all familiar with is 83, only one of 175 children die before age 5families often resort to sending their children these stories. This is not new for us. It is this and nearly all births are attended by a skilledto the streets to scrounge what they can. way for many, many years,” said Mohammad health professional. “When I see small children begging on Saleem Sikandari, headmaster at CAI’s Kabul Afghans often compensate by having hugethe street, or working dirty jobs no one else center. “We can’t save every family. All we can families.will do, it makes me so sad,” Karimi said.“Childhood is not for working, it is not forbegging, it is a time for getting education.Sometimes the terrorists use these children,paying families for their boys. And the familiesare poor. They have no choices. They needfood. “It is a difficult job to convince their parentsthe children are better in school. It is a longtime from when a person starts school to whenthey become a doctor. I look forward to theday when I don’t see children begging on thestreet,” he said. But some kids, particularly boys, have toput economic needs before their education.Finding a balance isn’t easy. Waisudeen, 16, is a fifth-grader who startedschool later than his classmates. These days heattends school at the CAI Center in Kabul. Inthe morning he is in class. In the afternoon hedashes off to his job working for a tailor in thecentral city. After paying for transportation from schoolto work, he takes home about 82 cents a day. “My father is sick for a long time. Nobody Girls whose families belong to the nomadic Kuchi tribe fetch water for their tent-homes in aworks in my family and my family has no valley just south of Kabul in September. The Kuchis head east to warmer climes for winter. CAImoney,” he said. “The sewing, making has erected tent schools in the Kuchis’ summer and winter camps for the children. Fall 2011 | 25
  • 26. Boys come to watch the laborers at Gumran Girls’ Middle School in Logar Province south of Kabul. “I have two wives, 11 sons and 12 daughters,” fighting” of the early 1990s. “Educated women Headmaster Mohammad Azim said he said Akhtar Mohammad, a teacher at CAI’s can make a good mother and have good care hired that brother as a teacher in the school in Musakhil School in Parwan Province. “All and control in all areas of her family – health, order to help Nooria. The two walk to school my children are married now and we have water, food. She knows what is better for her together every day. 80 people in our household. I cannot even body and for her children. Women who are “This is the courage of the headmaster,” remember all my grandchildren’s names.” uneducated in all parts of life, Karimi said. Education is key to combating all these they cannot do as well.” Most of the villagers in this problems, Karimi said. He painted the words As a result, Taukal said, it has quiet village make a living from “Education is Light” on the side of the CAI even increased the “value” of agriculture. In September, center. girls as potential brides. families were busy harvesting “By education we can improve our own “For marriage, people now wheat, shaking walnuts from country, like foreign countries where most give much value to girls who the trees and picking ripe fruit. of the people are educated,” said Uden, the have education,” Taukal said. Nooria said her fiancé wants her principal at the CAI center. “We should “They will help their families in school, not in the fields. do everything by ourselves, not count on and villages, and they will work “I am very shy to talk about other foreigners to build our roads, design hard. People love to get married this, but when I get married our apartments, teach our students. Most to them!” and have children, I can help important is we need peace. If we have peace, with children and my husband’s we can do everything. For 10 years people ‘People will talk’ family,” she said. “Already when I were much afraid to come out of homes. Now Unfortunately, that value go home I teach my two brothers’ students come to school and get knowledge.” is not universal. Nooria, an Nooria, who fought for wives for a half-hour every day. I The results of education are not 18-year-old student in class 10 her family’s permission also help my sister in class six. So instantaneous, Karimi noted. It will be at Mir Afghan Girls’ School in to remain in school, he knows and I know education generations before the results of today’s the foothills north of Kabul, is heads home after a day’s is important.” investments can be measured. But the engaged to be married. But she lessons. Nooria and her classmates situation is improving. School enrollment has has had to fight to stay in school. study in a dusty room in a risen from 1 million during the Taliban years “My father and my brothers don’t let rented house that serves as their school. to more than 8 million. me come to school and I missed one year,” “The government pays for one house rent Conservative mullahs and religious scholars she said, shyly pulling her pink dupatta and teachers, but never built us a school,” still object to secular education and education (headscarf). “They say I have to stay at home headmaster Azim said. As he spoke, a cow for girls. But that’s changing. to help, that’s it not fair for me to go to school, wandered into the yard outside and he “Of course it makes much difference if girls that people will talk because girls are not summoned a couple younger children to shoo are educated,” said Izmari Mamozy, a math supposed to go to school when they are older. it away. teacher at CAI’s Familia Girls’ High School in Only my one brother has helped me come For all these reasons and more, CAI has Maiden Shahr who lost his right arm in “the here.” partnered with the village to build a new 12-26 | Journey of Hope
  • 27. room girls’ high school. Work is already under he wasn’t all bad, “He was from this village and human takes a long time and many resources.way; Karimi estimates it will open after the donated this house and the land for a school.” After more than 30 years of war all overwinter break. After tea, she led a tour of the school, ending Afghanistan all things, even schools, all are Another 10th-grader, 17-year-old Sakina, in the library she has assembled in one of the gone. And like all countries, Afghanistanwas effusive in her thanks for classrooms built by CAI. A spends too much money on the army. Thethe school and shared a story large table holds a 3-foot-tall result of fighting is not good and makes manyabout how she, too, is using her plastic human skeleton and problems, it kills people and destroys theeducation to help others. a microscope. The walls are country. There is no development. “Yesterday I went to the covered with maps and charts “So now we start from zero and need toclinic and there were many explaining human anatomy, slowly build. Education makes human beingswomen and all had pieces of chemical elements and the change. After 20 years we will have teacherspaper for their turn, but none of speed of sound. One locked to introduce to the community. But withoutthem could read,” she said. “So bookcase holds the supplies professional teachers, education cannot goI told everybody, ‘This is your for the “science lab.” Two other ahead,” he said.turn, you are next, then you.’ bookshelves have a variety ofI was then much proud of my books for students and teachers. Tangling with Talibaneducation.” “This is our job,” Waffa said. Parwan “has long been thought of as one Sakina has the support of “We have to do this. We want to of Afghanistan’s more peaceful provinces,”her family, and is the second do it better, but unfortunately McClatchy Newspapers reported Aug. 14. “Ithighest-ranking student in her our hand is empty. I hope the is home to the largest U.S. military base inclass, the headmaster said. level of education gets higher Afghanistan, and its major highway is a key “I try to come to school Kamiri Girls’ High School in Afghanistan, because then supply route for U.S.-led NATO forces fromeveryday,” Sakina said. Principal Parwin Waffa. we can solve our problems by the Central Asian republics of Uzbekistan and“Sometimes I become lazy and ourselves and the fighting will Tajikistan.”I don’t want to come to school. But my father, finish. We thank Allah and ask him to give you But in August, the Taliban attacked thehe is uneducated and he says, ‘You must not a long life. You are hardworking for us all.” offices of Gov. Abdul Basir Salangi; Shaheed’smiss school.’” Karimi smiled and gestured to the library. office is on the second floor of the same “No,” he said. “It is not us. This is all your hard building. Working together working.” One bomber detonated an explosives- Family support is key to education, packed vehicle at the gate, according to newsespecially for girls. But the role of teachers and Need trained teachers reports, and five other militants armed withheadmasters who advocate for their schools One of the most common requests these automatic weapons, grenade launchers andand their students is just as important. days is help with teacher training to boost the rockets stormed the building. A three-hour The principal at Kamiri Girls’ High School quality of education in Afghanistan. firefight resulted in 22 killed and 34 injured.east of Kabul in Bagrami district works hard “For more than 30 years therefor the 1,265 girls at her school. is fighting in Afghanistan and “When I started here four years ago, we had there is no city, no town, no600 students and when they finished class village not destroyed or damage,eight they were done,” said Parwin Waffa. no road undamaged, no schools“We also had five classes in tents. This school undamaged,” said Abdul Moqimis a little far from Kabul and government so Halimi, education director inthey don’t pay attention to what we need. No Panjshir Province. “Teachersmaterials, nothing comes from government moved to other places, otherside. They have school here in name only. countries. Now all of us are trying “So I try to get help for school. I know if we to make a little better qualityhave good situation, all students will come of education for the people.to study because they know education is Quantity is not enough. We needimportant for girls. So when heard about CAI, professional teachers, a trainingI asked Wakil. Then together we make school center or institute or university. Ifto 12 class. We appreciate CAI’s hard work we can solve this problem, it willhere.” be much easier to move ahead CAI helped build a five-classroom addition with quality education.”to the school, a boundary wall and a gate. CAI The education directoralso pays the school fees and buys uniforms in Parwan Province, Zalmaand supplies for 120 girls, pays the English Shaheed, echoed that sentiment.teachers, and provides notebooks and pencils. “I need 180 schools. But moreThe community, with Wakil’s help, also than anything, I need teacherintends to start a new program here in 2012 – training. We have many teachersan afterschool prep class for girls who want to for them, but some have no moretake the university entrance exams. than 10 class education. They The school office is in a large room on the aren’t teachers.”second floor of an old house in the center Asked why the Afghanof the schoolyard. As Waffa poured tea government doesn’t invest inand served dates and caramel candies, she education, Shaheed sighed,explained that former Afghan president smiled and leaned back in hisBabrak Karmel, who served from 1979 chair.to 1986, built the house. “He brought the “It is not as easy as your Two students at Rahman Mera Girls’ High School, whereRussians to Afghanistan,” she said, adding that question. The education of a Tailiban leaked gas into a classroom in September 2010. Fall 2011 | 27
  • 28. The common perception was that the But he is proud of the new building, set so everyone tries to send their daughters and attack was intended to undermine ISAF and to open this winter. “This is a high-quality sisters to school,” he said. President Karzai’s plan to shift responsibility school. You can see it is blue, the CAI color, It was a quick visit. Driving back out to the for security in Parwan to the Afghan National and there are 12 big classrooms. Everything main road, past women wearing burkas in the Army and Police. Despite the attacks, the plan is high-quality material – marble floors, 44 city’s Peace Park, Karimi said, “Those people went ahead in September. pillars and big strong working here now are from The villagers in Parwan, too, are not beams so nothing will a danger area of Maiden deterred by the violence when it comes to shake if there is an Shahr. They don’t work with educating their children. earthquake.” Taliban, but they know Sayed Mohammad donated the land for He paused for a moment them, they are relatives or CAI’s Musakhil School, a 2011 project. while someone whispered from their neighborhoods. “These are our children. We must not in his ear and then turned So Taliban won’t interrupt let anyone interfere with our children’s abruptly toward the main them. education,” he said. “We tell (the Taliban) that door. “Someone called “You see, every place we we, the local people, teach the children, no one to warn us [of militant work, we clear security with else comes here to teach them. And we have activity]. We should go.” the inside of the village. On to protect them. We appreciate this building Just west of Logar is Kunar side, it is a dangerous and your help with girls’ education and, if the Wardak Province. Some of area. One time Taliban Taliban comes, we will stand against them.” CAI’s projects there are in attacked two guys who went Some places in Afghanistan are easier to areas “too dangerous” to there with building materials work in than others, Karimi said. And that visit, Karimi said. He said and tried to kidnap them. changes. Places where there were no security CAI’s Familia Girls’ High But no success; the villagers problems a year ago are now too dangerous School in Maiden Shahr protected the two guys. I was pretty safe, but he for foreigners to visit. In other places, it is the have good people to work reverse. was nervous. A few weeks with me. The education This year brought “a surge of Taliban earlier Taliban abducted A student listens to her teacher minister says other NGOs activity in historically more stable regions of police and intelligence at CAI’s Pushgar School in the are not able to do that. Most Afghanistan, with an increasing number of officers in Maiden Shahr Panjshir Valley. of them are afraid and refuse insurgent attacks taking place in the provinces and beheaded them. to go to these places.” surrounding Kabul,” Erin Fitzgerald wrote He suggested that his This past winter, amid on the Huffington Post Aug. 23. Incidents female guests completely cover their heads on growing public outrage at vicious attacks in Parwan, Kapisa and Wardak provinces the way through one market at southern edge on girls, teachers, and their schools all over underscore “the impression that the of Kabul. “Only eyes showing,” he instructed. the country, Taliban commanders eased government’s writ does not extend outside Once at the school, though, he relaxed. restrictions regarding girls’ schools. They Kabul.” As he watched masons laying bricks for the announced girls’ education was permissible as In Logar Province, south of Kabul, not far second story, he said, “Taliban comes and tells long as it was in a separate building, teachers from CAI’s Gumran Girls’ Middle School, workers to stop sometimes, but headmaster and students were fully covered and the extremists attacked trucks carrying supplies to says it is OK.” curriculum reflected cultural values. ISAF headquarters in Kabul. The headmaster’s The headmaster, Aziz Ullah, confirmed Dozens of reported attacks took place daughter was killed in another firefight, Karimi’s summary. “Now it is OK. It is clear to during the September 2010 parliamentary Karimi said. all people that education is important for girls, elections, including one at Rahman Mena Girls’ High School, where CAI provides assistance to the more than 4,000 students. “It was the last period of the day and the principal noticed a bad smell,” said Manighza, the assistant principal. “When students came out of the room, many of them were sick, they could not walk or speak, they were confused and fell down. Eighty-four girls and some teachers got sick. Gas was leaked in from windows. “Nobody saw it happen, but everybody knows it is insurgent people. It was near to parliament elections and they want to scare people. All the girls were fine and all are still in school.” But the attack got Karimi’s attention. He visited the school just at the edge of the city to see how CAI could help. After numerous meetings with Manighza and other administrators, he agreed to set up university- exam prep classes and install a computer center with a teacher to run it. The computer classes have become CAI’s Wakil Karimi (second from right) inspects construction of the second floor of the Familia enormously popular. Girls’ High School in Maiden Shahr with headmaster Aziz Ullah (right). Two teachers at the “I am just starting on the computer, but I school, whose classes are held in a nearby rented house until construction is completed, know it will be helpful for getting knowledge follow behind. to help us protect our society from poverty28 | Journey of Hope
  • 29. Roadside shops illuminate the dusty streets of Kabul at dusk.and develop our country,” said 18-year-old Another wants to be a teacher. Another Taukal said. “When people get education theyRozia Rahmati. “And maybe someday, by this wants to work for women. I have 21 children, know that fighting doesn’t have good result.”computer we can connect to the world, to all including 11 daughters, so I want to divide The Batyash Primary School now has 450information, to the Internet.” them into different parts – except police and students in 10 classrooms. “For eight years we army. I send my sons to police and army.” had classes in tent and mosque,” Taukal said. Education trumps fighting That’s important, too. Educated police “Now we have a nice building.” Computer labs and lessons are probably and soldiers will be important players in Karimi said the mountainside property forstill a few years off in Kunar Province. the school made building a little tricky.“Most schools don’t even have “We had to blast stone and make twobuildings,” said Haji Sakhi Moshwani, levels. Sometimes we have to adapt.”who represents Kunar in the Afghan But he is pleased with the outcome.Parliament. “They do good work there, very nice The good news from Kunar is that stonework, with blue trim. This is the“now everyone wants to send their No. 1 building in the area.”daughters to school,” he said. “They Taukal, too, is pleased. “Now I wantgot information from people who went to make a little garden in front with ato other countries (as war refugees) retaining wall and maybe a wood fence.and came back and said, ‘Girls and There is also a water channel and a bigboys who have education can do tree that makes shade and a good areasomething for themselves and do it for sitting. I am very proud of the school.well. Even if girls don’t get a husband, Many times people come to see thethey can run their life without other school and thank me and Wakil for allpeople if they have education.’” our hard work and everything we have The bad news is “we still have three Young students ask their teacher a question in class at the done for the children of our village.”important problems,” he said. First is CAI English and Computer School in Kabul. Batyash is one of four CAI schools inthat many areas don’t have educational Kunar now open for students, he said.opportunities – especially for girls – above the Afghanistan’s future; illiteracy in the ranks is a Seven others are under construction.primary-school level. The second is that there huge problem. “We have no government to help and weare no women teachers. The third is a lack of NATO forces that helped with security cannot wait,” Taukal said. “We have studentshigher-education opportunities for girls. in the region have now been withdrawn, sitting on the ground and in the rain. Nobody “I ask people, ‘If our daughters don’t following failed efforts to work with local is invested. Nothing is there from governmentget higher education, who will teach your populations. NATO officials say the strategy side. The first NGO is CAI.daughters in school? Who will become doctors henceforth will be to focus troops on more “You can come to Kunar and I will showto help your wives?’ Too many people say their heavily populated areas and coach Afghan you all the CAI schools,” he said. “I havedaughters marry at 14 or 15. That time is for security forces to eventually take over the task relationships with all those people, so wheneducation. One of my daughters is 22 years of providing security. you reach the village, there is no problem. Iold and not married. She wants to be a lawyer. The only real way forward is education, will introduce you. But you need a burka.” = Fall 2011 | 29
  • 30. While touring Kala-i-Khumb School in Tajikistan, CAI project manager Sarfraz Khan helps a student with a math problem. Standing at the door are Boymamad Alibakhshov, chairman of Milal-Inter, a GBAO-based business-development group, and Karin Ronnow, CAI communications director. Behind them are local school representatives who wanted to show Sarfraz the run-down and overcrowded condition of their school, in hopes of convincing CAI to build them a new one. TA J I K I S TA N Delivering Hope zhamag Cai explores new frontiers in tajikistan ZHAMAG, Tajikistan – The two half have no regular income source – and live in a sparsely populated earthquakes that rocked this remote village region of one of the world’s poorest countries. in the Pamir Mountains in recent years have reduced the That region, the Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO), is village’s old one-story Soviet-built school from aging but functioning right across the Panj River from Afghanistan’s Badhakshan Province, to crumbling and dangerous. where CAI has been working for nearly a decade. Tajik community “You can see, the school is cracked and finished,” Vanj District leaders took note of CAI’s Afghan projects and in 2009 asked CAI Education Director Mardov Odinasho said in September after a quick project manager Sarfraz Khan for help. tour of the building. “For CAI it is no problem if there is war, mountains, rivers, or Since the quake in January 2010, Zhamag School’s 332 students no phones or electricity – we go,” Sarfraz said. “I start by making have attended classes in tents during the warm-weather months. friendships with the Tajik people and now we can work together for When the temperature drops and the schools.” snow flies, the entire operation shifts into Education officials in the GBAO the cracked and crumbling old school estimate that at least 10 percent of building. the region’s schools are in such poor “This area is very poor and I want a condition as to be dangerous for students. school for these people,” Odinasho said. “The problem is money,” said “The children study in tents, but those are Boymamad Alibakhshov, chairman of cold in winter, so they have to take risks Milal-Inter, a GBAO-based business to study in the damaged building.” development group. “Our people want Central Asia Institute’s overseas education, but we need much help in poor program managers have an amazing areas like Zhamag.” capacity to zero in on the neediest villages in the most remote places. Post-Soviet Tajikistan Zhamag lies at the end of a twisting, Tajikistan is a mountainous country narrow dirt road that crosses three of 7.6 million people just north of rickety bridges and gets increasingly SARFRAz KHAN Afghanistan and west of China. The rough and narrow as it climbs the Tents where 332 students attend school in zhamag Soviet Union took over the Islamic mountain. The villagers lack the village. A 2010 earthquake damaged the local school, country in the 1920s and remained here resources to rebuild their school – over and CAI is proposing to help the village rebuild. for 70 years.30 | Journey of 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
  • 31. Under Soviet rule, the government invested Her father said, “After the collapse of the Russian people. It is a dangerous place andin the country’s infrastructure and people, Soviet Union, people were starving. During they are racist to Tajiks.”building roads, schools and health clinics, the civil war there were so many barriers – Tajiks know education is key to bolsteringstringing power lines into the GBAO and roads were closed, there was no money, people their economy and keeping its productiveintroducing concepts of gender equity and were working, but weren’t getting paid.” workers at home.even Western-style dress. In an effort to help, he formed Milal-Inter The country has a good start; education As a result, the country is better off than and went to Russia for a management course is free and compulsory between the agesneighboring Afghanistan. Tajiks live, on offered by the U.S. government. “That was of 7 and 17. Yet in the post-independenceaverage, 20 years longer than Afghans. The when I realized that the USSR was over, gone, decline, functional literacy may be slipping,electricity works – most of the time. There and we were truly going to have to do this for the U.S. State Department reports. And theare no roadblocks, no military helicopters ourselves,” he said. country is now dealing with the fact that aoverhead and no Taliban. The civil war ended in 1997 with a United disproportionate percentage of the population “For 70 years, Soviet Union was here and Nations-brokered peace agreement and the – nearly half – is under age 15.at that time everyone was working very country stabilized, but economic health and “Education is the most important spherehard,” said Alibakhshov, who worked as prosperity have remained elusive. that needs to be improved,” said Shahlo,director of the propaganda department for These days, more than 50 percent of Tajiks who works with her father at Milal-Inter.the Communist Party in Khorog, GBAO’s live in poverty, according to the World Bank. “Everything depends on education. If ourcapital city. “Now almost all people are at The average income is about $700 per year. children will be well educated, it will helpleast educated. We have other problems. But Tajikistan remains the poorest country in the improve our republic’s economy, and allowour neighbors in Afghanistan, 70 percent former Soviet bloc and one of the poorest on Tajikistan to be more progressive.”of the people are not even educated. I think the planet.Afghanistan is 50 or 60 years behind us.” “Here there are no jobs. There is no lnto the mountains But Tajikistan’s social and economic money,” said Salima Rakhmatbecova, 28, an Getting to the areas of the GBAO wherestructure began to crumble almost unemployed nurse in Khorog, the capital of CAI has started working isn’t simple. Peopleimmediately after independence in 1991. A GBAO. traveling from Dushanbe have two optionscivil war ensued between the Moscow-backed Some women make a meager living selling – a one-hour, good-weather-only flightgovernment and the pro-democracy and goods in the market. But almost half the through the mountains in an aging RussianIslamist opposition. An estimated 50,000 working-age men, and an increasing number Antonov 28 prop plane, or a 15- to 20-hourto 80,000 people were killed and 1.2 million of women, leave the country to find work. road trip along the M41 “highway.” On rainypeople displaced. One-tenth of the population “Most people go to Russia because Tajiks days, the road is the only option.fled the country. don’t need a visa, it is cheaper to get there than Calling it a highway is rather misleading. Plus, the Soviet safety net – state farms, to Europe, England, or the United States, and After leaving the capital, pavement quicklyprice controls, government investment in we speak the language,” Shahlo said. “They gives way to broken asphalt and stretches ofinfrastructure, guaranteed jobs and income – just register there and can look for work. But gravelly dirt.was gone. they only get service jobs, because they are The road weaves through the canyons, “When the Russians left, things got very not citizens.” ascending gradually through small villages;bad,” said Shahlo, Alibakhshov’s 34-year-old Life in Russia is not easy, Rakhmatbecova three-quarters of Tajiks live in ruraldaughter. “Everyone suffered.” said. “My brother was killed in Moscow by areas. Along the way, children run out to SARFRAz KHAN Children outside the earthquake-damaged zhamag Village School in the Vanj District of the GBAO. Fall 2011 | 31
  • 32. greet travelers, selling apples, dried figs, lsolation and neglect students – dressed in freshly washed and pomegranates, and pears. Girls sell old plastic Although most people in the GBAO pressed white shirts and black pants or skirts pop bottles filled with honey. Men and boys –Ismaili Shiite Pamiris – have more in – stopped their lessons to recite patriotic move huge herds of goats and sheep along the common culturally and ethnically with verses and sing songs for their visitors. In one road. the people in Afghanistan’s Badakhshan classroom, the teacher opted to continue with The road winds along a vast construction Province than they do with the Tajiks, the her math lesson and show off her students’ site – the Soviets attached the skills. massive Roghun autonomous region But the condition of the building – wood hydroelectric dam to Tajikistan in with plaster walls – has meant that the village and power plant on 1929. pours more resources into maintenance than the Vakhsh River. The union has into education. The project taps always been a “Every year in winter the walls fall Tajikistan’s largest little strained. The and crack and we need new plaster,” the natural resource: GBAO government headmaster said. water. declared Sarfraz told the elders he still needed “Tajikistan independence again to get the school in Zhamag started, and could be a great during the civil war negotiations were under way for two others. hydro power: Its of the 1990s, and But he promised to return to Kala-i-Khumb snowy mountains the region became next spring. and glaciers hold an opposition “The problem everywhere is money,” 60 percent of hub. Leaders Sarfraz said afterwards, echoing Alibakhshov. Central Asia’s water later acquiesced “No one has any money – not even the resources,” Al to continuing as government.” Sarfraz Khan discusses educational needs in Jazeera reported in the GBAO with Education Director Gharibsho an autonomous April 2010. “With Gharibshoev in the director’s office in Khorog. province within Building bridges a total projected Tajikistan, but Continuing east into the GBAO, the dam height of 335 meters, the engineers at locals argue the region may be paying a price road follows the Panj River, which divides Roghun want to maximize the power that can for its rebellious streak. Tajikistan and Afghanistan. Afghan- be harnessed from the annual 20 billion cubic “We ask [the education ministry] in Badakhshan is right there, 100 meters meters of water flowing down the valley along Dushanbe for help with our school, but no away. On the Tajik side, there are schools, the River Vakhsh.” success,” said the headmaster of the high health clinics, electricity and paved roads. The 16-year, multi-billion-dollar project is school in Kala-i-Khumb, a village on the Panj On the Afghan side, dire poverty and no not without controversy, however, including River along the M41 from Dushanbe. infrastructure. the forced relocation of 3,000 families in 24 And that’s where CAI comes in. When It’s impossible to talk of Tajikistan’s future villages, according to Alibakhshov. But the Kala-i-Khumb’s elders heard that a CAI without considering the impact of war in Tajik government is banking on the project representative, Sarfraz, was coming through neighboring Afghanistan, with which it shares easing electricity shortages in the country and town, they lined up a tour of their 1960s-era an 870-mile border. giving it a commodity to sell to Afghanistan high school. “It is a porous and in some places intangible and Pakistan. The single-story school is overcrowded, boundary that adheres closely to the Panj Past the damn, the road continues into they told Sarfraz, and administrators have River, with a smattering of poorly trained, the GBAO. By the time it crosses the resorted to running two shifts for the 260 uneducated and easily corruptible guards Khaburabot Pass, mountain peaks dominate boys and girls: upper classes in the morning, deployed to protect it,” the New York Times the landscape and the altitude has increased lower classes in the afternoon. reported in August. from 2,624 feet in Dushanbe to nearly As Sarfraz went from room to room, the Those guards patrol the boundary day and 12,800 feet. The GBAO has some of the world’s tallest mountains, including a few over 23,000 feet, and river valleys that drain the Pamir range’s melting snow and glaciers. “The region is so lofty and cold that you can not even see any birds flying,” Marco Polo wrote in the 13th century. “And I must notice also that because of this great cold, fire does not burn so bright, nor give out so much heat as usual.” The Pamir is home to last nomadic Kyrgyz people on the planet. But few others are willing to put down roots in the area – while the GBAO makes up 45 percent of Tajikistan’s territory, it is home to only 3 percent the population, about 230,000 people. And much of that population is isolated from the outside world – only two major roads connect it to outside world, the M41 to Dushanbe and another to Kyrgyzstan. Foreigners must get special permission to Girls sell locally harvested honey, stored in used plastic soda bottles, on the side of the road travel in the GBAO. in the Tajik village of Yozgan.32 | Journey of Hope
  • 33. Many of the walls of zhamag School are cracked and crumbling. A horseman herds goats on the M41 highway in Tajikistan. The Pamir is rich in mineral resources, too, up early and walk 9 kilometers (more than he said. “We have gold, platinum, silver – 35 5 miles) one way. That’s OK in the summer, elements are available here. When the first but difficult in the winter. So we need more atomic bomb was produced by the Soviet schools. We are also in need of tent schools in Union, the uranium was brought from here. GBAO.” And we have water. As of this fall, Sarfraz was considering threenight, trying to stop the Afghan opium bound “So this is our duty – to help make business locations for CAI projects: Zhamag; Konofor Russia and Europe. Drug-related violence, more alive and create possibilities for Kurgan in the high plains of eastern Pamir’scorruption and crime are among the reasons other businesses. When Russia left, we lost Murghob District; and Langar, in Ishkashimthe Tajik government worries about U.S. everything. Now we understand we have to District, which includes the Tajik portion ofplans to leave Afghanistan in 2014. establish a business environment here and the Wakhan Corridor, just across the river Russia, too, is worried. Its soldiers helped then when the situation is more stable we find from Afghanistan. Negotiations with theguard the border until 2005, when Tajik a way to start some production. We are in government have proved more difficult thanleaders asked them to leave. Now Russia the center of Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, expected.is reconsidering its role. “[Tajik President Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. If we work Thus far, his emphasis has been on Zhamag.Emomali] Rakhmon’s government has together, we all benefit,” he said. “It is damaged by earthquake and localresisted those overtures, however, amid people want CAI’s help,” Sarfraz said.concerns that it could undermine the Learn, learn, learn “CAI works in poor areas, difficult areas incountry’s sovereignty,” the AP reported. At the core of economic development, mountains where no NGO or government is And locals seeking to expand trade however, is education, Shahlo said. working.”between Afghanistan and Tajikistan aren’t “Our people try hard in Badakhshan,” There are logistical problems to workingtoo fond of the idea, either. “Here the Shahlo said. “Other places don’t force their here, he acknowledged. One of the threeterritory is big and the people are few. In children go to school, but in our region rickety old bridges between the main roadorder to develop this region we have to find everyone has to finish secondary school, 11 and the village won’t support the heavy trucksmarkets outside, including Afghanistan,” class, and people pay much attention to this.” typically used to deliver building materials.Alibakhshov said. The Aga Khan, spiritual leader of the The road is also narrow. Among its other business-development Ismailis and founder and chairman of the But the villagers in Zhamag are fully onefforts, Milal-Inter – Milal means nation – private, nondenominational Aga Khan board with CAI. They have offered to fellhas set up a handful of cross-border markets, Development Network, inspires GBAO’s trees to provide wood for the new school andfacilitated in part by recent construction of Ismailis to educate themselves and their provide subsidized and free manual labor.several bridges over the Panj. children, she said. And they are eager to get started. There are There have been hurdles, he admitted. “Our Aga Khan says all the time, ‘You have growing concerns that any gaps in Tajikistan’s“For a while, the Afghan commandants to learn, to learn, to learn.’ Our people listen investment in education only make theand mullahs wouldn’t let women come to to him. Aga Khan also is saying ‘Focus on country more vulnerable to the extremistour market. They have such power, such girls and women.’ They have to be educated. influences rocking neighboring Afghanistaninfluence,” he said. “And Tajik government They will be mothers and children depend on and Pakistan. As one BBC report put it:had to make some rules, including no burkas them,” Shahlo said. “Economic hardship is seen as contributing toin the market. They worried burkas could hide But the education infrastructure is a renewed interest in Islam – including moresuicide bomber’s vest.” crumbling, Gharibsho Gharibshoev, radical forms – among young Tajiks.” But as the months go by, the markets are the GBAO education director, said in a In Vanj District, which is largely Sunni,more and more popular. And he is optimistic. September interview in his office in Khorog. the sect of Taliban, “the local people are “The main thing is trade. Due to civil war “Some of the main problems that exist here also working hard to stop the radicals,”in the 1990s, the manufacturing sector got are that the school buildings are very old and Alibakhshov said. “Even though people arevery weak. Now everything we have here is in bad condition,” he said. “In GBAO, 315 educated here, we still have a long border withfrom China,” he said. “But we have a concept schools were built from 1960 to 1975. Now 32 Afghanistan. If we provide education, though,of export promotion. We have honey, herbal of those are in emergency condition. then we will have no problem like Taliban.”plants, and handicrafts. We have so many “Also, in Badakhshan there are some Everyone has a lot riding on the Zhamagfruits that are wasted because we have no places where there is a school in one village School project. But once the communityproduction process.” and children in another village have to get breaks ground, then it’s full speed ahead. = Fall 2011 | 33
  • 34. Women in a CAI women’s vocational center in Kabul learn to sew clothing for themselves, their families and, eventually, to sell. Hope and Last llliterate Generation Cai’s vocational and literacy centers KABUL, Afghanistan – When Marina off the chai and cookies in front of her. “Next children’s education.” was young, her father refused to let her go to year we will have a new baby and I’m afraid we She said her 45-year-old husband doesn’t school. can’t afford it.” object to her education, “He is an open man.” She was frustrated, disappointed and Determined to change her circumstances, But he doesn’t help her, either. angry, but filled her days with household she started with the basics. “I decided I had to “He doesn’t give me one afghani. That’s chores, working in the fields and with the the problem,” she said. “I get the doctor’s animals. prescription for medicine, but I don’t But when her two younger sisters have money to get it filled – such things reached school age and her father again like that. refused, she fought back. “All Afghan women are under such “All three of us went on a hunger stress, under much pressure. Most women strike,” she recalled, sitting on the floor of are also under the control of men. The one of Central Asia Institute’s women’s women don’t have education, so their vocational centers. “For three days we husbands don’t allow them to go outside. didn’t eat. The whole time we were crying, Since they can’t work outside the home, we had headaches – until finally my father they have no income and men don’t agreed. Now my sisters have graduated respect them. It is like a circle.” from class 12. From Kabul to Kashmir, CAI is trying “I didn’t get to go to school. But I made to break that cycle. In every region sure they did,” she said. Sabiera (left) and Safiya supervise and manage CAI’s where CAI works, it has established Marina, 27, grew up in eastern women’s centers in Kabul. women’s centers to teach basic skills – Afghanistan’s Lagmahn Province. She reading, writing, basic math, sewing and married a man from Kabul five years ago and learn to read and write,” she said. She found handicrafts, and basic hygiene and nutrition – moved to the city. Her husband is a bicycle and enrolled in one of CAI’s literacy programs and empower women to build a better future. mechanic. They have two children, 2 and 4 here in the city. years old, and are expecting a third child in And when she was done with that, she Reading and writing early 2012. kept going. She enrolled in CAI’s vocational Kabul is teeming with people. Many “My economic situation is not well and I training. “I want to help my husband or work fled fighting in their home villages. Others am uneducated,” she said, swishing the flies for people and get money to help for my returned from refugee camps in Iran and34 | Journey of 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
  • 35. Pakistan and got no farther than the city. of women still wear burkas because their good teachers, said Sabiera, 38, who helpsStill others moved to the capital in search husbands or their husbands’ families insist.” Safiya supervise the programs.of economic opportunities. But those Safiya is a widowed mother of two girls who “It is more difficult to teach adults thanopportunities are limited and most of the lives with her parents in Kabul. “My husband children because they can’t learn as fast aspopulation winds up eking out a living. was killed by the Taliban because he worked children,” said Sabiera, who taught a CAI For women, however, the post-Taliban for the Afghan government in Khost,” she literacy class in her home before takingyears have brought new freedoms. said. She earned an accounting degree with this job. “So teachers have to provide “Education was not possible for us before,” the help of a CAI scholarship and was hired to lots of encouragement for students, too.said Bibi Maria, 50, a student at a CAI literacy run the literacy and vocational programs. Encouragement and patience makes a goodcenters in Kabul’s Doghabad District. “This By the time the women finish the literacy teacher.”is the first time we have these kinds of classes program, they have roughly the equivalentin houses, the first time our families will let us of a primary school education, Safiya said. Graduationcome. Now we must take advantage After women complete the literacythat you made this for us. I even program in Kabul, they are welcomebrought my two daughters-in-law to enroll in the vocational training. Allhere, too.” the programs are free to participants. Literacy classes meet for two hours, “After they learn to read and write,six days a week, for nine months, then they want to know vocationalusually in the teachers’ homes. skills so they can get some money and “So many women in Kabul are get their own income,” said Wakiluneducated,” said Lamia, who runs a Karimi, CAI’s program managerCAI center in her home. “Any woman for central, southern and easternwho was a child or a teenager during Afghanistan and the creator of theTaliban, now she is in her 20s and she programs. “That is much important.was married and had children before Most Afghan people don’t take careshe could learn. Even now there are of women and wives. So we help themparents who are conservative and learn sewing, making clothes.”don’t trust society and won’t let their The three-month course starts withdaughters go to school. But they will the basics of drawing a paper pattern,let them come here.” said Vida, 29, one of the vocational Behind her, the girls and women in Literacy student Bibi Niamiata practices her spelling. teachers.her class entered the house, leaving “I teach that on a white board for 10their shoes by the front door and their blue The program takes the students through to 15 days,” she said. “Then they learn to makechadoris (burkas) on a sturdy wooden table in a two-volume “literacy primer” published lines on the fabric and cut. Then we move tothe hallway. by UNESCO and the Afghan Ministry of the sewing.” “The Taliban period for Afghanistan was Education. The Afghan government requires As she spoke, 20 women were seated onvery dark,” said Safiya, 30, CAI’s women’s CAI to keep enrollment records and the the floor, sewing machines set up on boxesprograms manager in Kabul. “I was in Khost graduate certificate is signed and stamped by in front of them. A few of the women hadProvince then and my mother-in-law was the Afghan education minister. brought their small children with them.very bad. She made me wear a burka. A lot But the key to the program’s success is its A few days later, in a different Kabul Two girls whose parents won’t allow them to attend school learn to read and write at a CAI literacy center. The centers are usually in private homes and some parents think that is safer or more appropriate for their daughters. Girls pair up for computer lessons at Rahman Mena Girls’ High School, where CAI has installed a computer lab and provides school supplies. Fall 2011 | 35
  • 36. Women lean against the wall while knitting inside Shekeg Women’s Vocational Center in Ishkashim, Afghanistan. neighborhood, a vocational center held a graduation ceremony for 47 the women were met by their children, who loaded the machines into women who had completed the course this past summer. wheelbarrows or hefted them onto their backs for the walk home. The graduation kicked off with lots of pomp in an assembly room “Some of them will continue with CAI’s advanced tailoring of the local high school (CAI also operates a computer center for girls training,” Karimi said. “From all centers we collect the three or four at the school and pays for additional teachers). top students. We are already running two such Students sang the national song. Eight girls and classes. They are making student uniforms for our two boys wearing national costumes and the schools.” colors of the Afghan flag sang a traditional song. The principal of the high school then addressed Giving back the graduates. CAI has invested in literacy and vocational “Education is important for females; some say it training for women throughout its project areas. But is not, but I have proof it is,” said Principal Abdul the needs, and thus the approach, vary by region. Malik Khan. “They do much good for society. In Pakistan and in Afghanistan’s Wakhan Thanks to CAI for help educating girls and for Corridor, for example, the programs are often paying attention to this area that is so poor.” combined, with a heavier emphasis on handicrafts. Then he spoke directly to the vocational center CAI provides small buildings, training and grads: “And you, especially, should send your girls materials. to school. They should not be uneducated like “Women want to make their share for the family, you.” to generate income for kids’ education and for their After his speech, graduates and “alumni” came own basic needs. Mostly they use it for their kids,” to the front of the room to talk about the merits said Saidullah Baig, CAI’s Gilgit (Pakistan) project of the training. Most of them were very nervous manager. “Now in Charpusan [Valley], some of – public speaking is not common for Afghan the vocational centers have become self sustaining women – and two of them opted to keep their and the women are making bank accounts with the burkas on since there were men in the room. profits. They sell their work for 20 to 50 rupees per “In future we hope to solve our problems by piece, so they are making 600 to 2,000 rupees per ourselves,” one graduate said. A Wakhi woman holds a basket she month. Some women are actually saving money.” “Now we don’t have to put our hand out to wove at Khandud Vocational Center. Late last May, Saidullah checked on the progress others,” said another woman. of three women’s centers under construction in “Clothing is a fundamental need, like housing and transportation,” the Ghizer Valley. The typical blueprint calls for four rooms – a a woman said. “Thanks to this program, I am able to make clothing workshop, display room, kitchen and raw material storage room – and for my children, for myself, for my neighborhood. It solves many a bathroom. The community supplies the land and free or subsidized problems.” labor. Every graduate received a certificate of completion and a hand-crank “After we finish the building, we will offer basic training for them sewing machine, scissors, a metal T-ruler and an iron. Outside the hall with a trainer, material and sewing machines,” he said.36 | Journey of Hope
  • 37. In Singul village, CAI is working with theHillbush Local Support Organization, whichwill look after and supervise the center once itis done, Baig said. “More than 100 women could benefit fromthis center,” he said, as workers measuredand installed roof beams for the building. “Avillager gifted the land to the women.” Hillbush LSO is an umbrella organizationrun by Bulbul Haja and her husbandAlimadad Shah. When they heard Saidullahwas in the area, they insisted he stop at theirhome for tea. Over a spread of fresh fruit, sweet friedbread, boiled eggs and chicken, they inquiredabout the estimated date of completion for theproject and CAI’s other work in Ghizer. Then Alimadad insisted on giving a tour ofhis orchard. “I have so many trees: cherry, apricot, apple,mulberry. We also have grapes,” he said.“Some of this was planted by my grandfather,some by my father. But now, my kids are notinterested in land and plants. They are all A woman walks through her Kabul neighborhood carrying the sewing machine she receivedstudying. We are all literate in this family, and at the ceremony for graduates of CAI’s women’s vocational centers.it is bringing some changes.” The changes are good, he said, but he is pushing me to remarry. But I loved my mother leads to better-educated children.determined that his children will give back to husband and don’t want to remarry. I came “It is much better if mother is educated,”their community, too. That’s why the family back to our home here, my husband is buried Fozia said. “If she is uneducated, she will notstarted Hillbush. here and started doing everything myself. But know whether they learn or don’t learn. The it is very difficult. I am working in the fields, father can’t do this thing because he is busy For the children I have two young children – I faced so many with the income of the family. Up the Yasin Valley, in Hunder village, CAI problems. “My husband has education to class six andis building another vocational center that Baig “I don’t know what my children will is a construction laborer. But when he comessaid will serve 60 women. In anticipation, a become, but I am trying to give them from his job and I say, ‘You should checklocal woman approached Saidullah about a education so they will spend life in a better with the children and see if they can readjob during a May visit to check on the project. way,” she added. and write,’ he says, ‘I am too tired.’ It is much Lal Begum, 38, an educated local woman, Saidullah promised to consult with her better if the mother has education becausemother of two and a widow, also happens to about the possibility of a job once the building most of the time she is with her children. If Ibe a master trainer looking for work. “I have was complete. am educated, I can help.”some machines at home and already trained But Lal Begum’s passionate attempts to Or, as Marina, the woman who went on asome village women for sewing, embroidery build a better future for her children are hunger strike with her sisters, put it: “Evenand different skills,” she said. echoed everywhere CAI works. though my daughters are young, already I try Her husband had just completed his law Back in Kabul, Fozia, a 26-year-old literacy to catch them, give them pencil for writingdegree when he died 15 years ago of a heart center student, said in a patriarchal society and try to set a good example for them. Weattack. She moved to Gilgit to live with her like Afghanistan’s it is the women who “guide need to create a new generation of educatedparents and after a few years, “they started their children’s education.” And an educated children.” = Local laborers begin work on the ceiling in CAI’s new women’s vocational center in Hunder, in Pakistan’s Yasin Valley. A group of women gather to wash clothes in an irrigation ditch just outside the Hunder center. Fall 2011 | 37
  • 38. Fozia Naseer, CAI’s women’s development and scholarship director, hands out school supplies to students at Gulapur Girls’ Primary School in the Shigar Valley, Baltistan, Pakistan. Teaching Hope pennies for peace “I will never forget how many schools there aren’t in the world.” “I learned that pennies can make a difference. Every time I look at a penny I think of Pakistan.” “I was like, ‘Holy cow, there are poor kids without school.’ It was sad but touching.” These are just a few of the comments from children who participated in Pennies for Peace. The quotes were collected by Jerene Mortenson, a retired educator, P4P’s ambassador and the mother of Greg Mortenson, CAI ‘s co-founder (not necessarily in that order). Jerene was there when a boy at West Side Elementary School in River Falls, Wisc. – where she was the principal – heard Greg’s stories about the children in Baltistan, Pakistan who had no schools. That boy came up with the idea for what was originally called Pennies for Pakistan. He shared his idea with his classmates and teachers and Mohammad Nazir (center), CAI’s Baltistan program manager, hands together they helped Greg raise money to fulfill his promise to build out school supplies to teachers and community members for the children in Korphe, Pakistan, a school. distribution at Al Mehdi School in Hemasil. She has traveled to the Karakoram Mountains to see the school in Korphe that her students helped build. and write resonates with children and Pennies for Peace gives them And now, in her retirement, she has taken on the mantle of an opportunity to do something concrete about it. A sense of efficacy spokesperson and advocate for the messages that she believes are comes about through a ‘can-do’ attitude, which results from providing inherent in P4P’s service-learning construct – messages that we all the funds to help make school a possibility.” need to be thinking about. It boils down to two words, “empathy and efficacy,” she said in a Restricted funds speech at CAI’s “Building Bridges of Peace” conference in October. In the past decade, Pennies for Peace has blossomed into an “Empathy requires understanding, efficacy requires doing. important teaching tool for children and adults. Learning about children in societies different from their own can The idea is that a penny buys a pencil in the places where CAI works. create understanding. Not having the opportunity to learn to read All money raised by P4P drives goes into a restricted fund and is only38 | Journey of 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
  • 39. used to help establish schools, buy school supplies (pencils, notebooks, School in Le Roy, N.Y., raised $1,600, which they donated to a localerasers) and furniture, provide scholarships and pay teacher salaries at program that provides children with backpacks filled with snacks andCAI schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Roughly 60,000 pennies, or food to take home over the weekends.$600, will pay a teacher’s salary for a whole year. Greg Mortenson has always said that CAI doesn’t have to be the Pennies for Peace is about kids helping kids. As Jerene said, it is beneficiary of a P4P campaign. The point is to get kids involved andabout teaching kids why it is important to help those who don’t have engaged.the same advantages we have, and helping them Still, Greg’s stories continue to inspiresee that they can actually do something about communities to launch P4P campaigns toit, they can make a difference in the world. benefit CAI’s community partners in remote One parent wrote to Jerene that there were areas of Central Asia.two lessons she wanted her children to learn One current campaign has been organizedfrom P4P. by Joanne Broder, a teacher at Smallwood “As parents, it is so important to teach our Academy in Gambo, Newfoundland, Canada.children that doing something to help another She decided P4P would be a great way tois one of the most important things we can introduce her students to the idea of globaldo in life. Another lesson that I would like my citizenship.children to learn is that the feeling of self- “When most middle-school kids get up insatisfaction you get from helping someone who the morning and head off to school for the day,truly needs help is the very best reward. I don’t it’s unlikely they’re preoccupied with what itwant my children to always think they should costs to educate each of them for a month,” thebe paid, or given something in return for being Gander Beacon newspaper reported on the Oct.helpful. For both of these reasons, Pennies for 18.Peace has been a wonderful teaching tool for But the kids in Broder’s class know howmy family. My son was so excited about the fact much it costs to educate a child in Pakistan, thethat 100 pennies could truly change the life of newspaper said.a child.” “One-hundred pennies,” Chanel Hobbs, 13, told the Beacon. “For that little bit of money, a Twenty-nine countries student can go to school for a month. That’s not As of mid-November, CAI had 1,969 active much.”or open campaigns in 29 countries, according Broder said she wants her students to knowto Michelle Laxson, CAI database manager. that they are part of an effort that is bigger than In addition to the United States and them and working for peaceful solutions.Canada, the other countries represented Pennies for Peace Ambassador Jerene “Our students will join tens of thousandswere: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, China, Mortenson speaks at a recent CAI event. of students around the world who areFrance, India, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Latvia, participating in the Pennies for Peace programLiberia, Mexico, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Portugal, Puerto Rico, and who are working together to become members of the global familySaudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, dedicated to peace,” Broder told the Beacon.Thailand, United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom. And Pennies for Peace drives do seem to generate a sense of Since the program was started, 9,644 drives have registered with belonging and helping, of being part of something bigger than oneself.CAI, including a few more than 200 since April, Laxson said. Jerene said she recently spoke at a school where students had raised Following the controversy involving CAI last spring, some schools enough money to pay for school supplies for 70 children for a year. Sheand other organizations running P4P campaigns opted to choose a told them that there are more than 100 million children in the worlddifferent charity for their donation. who are unable to go to school. Students at Kiroli Elementary School in West Monroe, La., for One of the children told her afterwards: “The message wasexample, raised $379 and donated it to the Family Justice Center of heartbreaking and I almost cried. But at least we made 70 kids worth ofOuachita Parish, according to news reports. Students at Wolcott Street a difference. Thank you for letting me make a difference.” =Hope in new places: The people of Muhammad Hussain Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and is very deserving.” village had shifted their children into an old Dera Ismail Khan is the southernmostCAl begins first shelter after the floods, but the situation was district of the province, with a population ofproject in Khyber unsustainable, Mizra said in June. “This school’s condition was covered by about 900,000, mostly farming communities and nomadic herding tribes.Pakhtunkhwa three leading TV channels to draw attention, Because of its proximity to Afghanistan Central Asia Institute has teamed up with but to no avail – there was no response from and the presence of militant Islamists,the community and education officials in the any quarter,” Mizra said. “I got into it because the region is considered unsettled andDera Ismail Khan District for its first project in being a CAI worker I thought we should do dangerous for foreigners.Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, formerly known as the something about it.” Ten militants attacked the police stationNorthwest Frontier Province of Pakistan. He contacted the village elders and in the city of Dera Ismail Khan, district At the behest of Lt. Col. (Ret.) Ilyas Mizra, education department officials and sent a headquarters, in July and 16 people wereCAI’s chief operations manager in Pakistan, man to check the situation. killed in the resulting battle with police. Andwho grew up in the province, CAI this past “They want a school for their children and in mid-October, Pakistani police recoveredspring began reconstruction of the Paharpur the government is not interested,” Mizra said. arms and ammunition in an operationGirls’ Primary School, a government school “The villagers agreed to donate 2 kanals of against suspected militants in Dera Ismailthat was severely damaged in the 2010 land, or 10,000 square feet, to the education Khan city.floods. department. This is the first CAI school in – Karin ronnow Fall 2011 | 39
  • 40. Central Asia lnstitute PO Box 7209 Bozeman, MT 59771 406.585.7841 www.ikat.org Since 1996, Central Asia Institute’s mission has been to empower communities of Central Asia through literacy and education, especially for girls, promote peace through education, and convey the importance of these activities globally. CAI has established or significantly supported more than 250 community-initiated education and service projects. CAI is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, federal IRS EIN # 51-0376237. = Sign up for CAI’s email newsletter, Alima www.ikat.org/alima = CAI’s blog: CAI Communiqué www.ikat.org/cai-communique CAl Board of Directors Abdul Jabbar, chairman Karen McCown Greg Mortenson CAl US Staff Greg Mortenson - Co-founder Anne Beyersdorfer - Acting executive director Jennifer Sipes - Operations director Karin Ronnow - Communications director Michelle Laxson - Database manager Sadia Ashraf - Outreach coordinator Lynsie Gettel - Design coordinator Haley Tarinelli - Administrative assistant Ellen Jaskol and Karin Ronnow in zebak District, Badahkshan Province, Jeff McMillan - Executive assistant Afghanistan, September 2011. About the journalists: Karin ronnow, 49, joined Central Asia Institute as EllEn Jaskol, 48, a photojournalist for 27 years, owns communications director in May 2011, after nearly 25 years as Ellen Jaskol Photography in Denver, where her clients include a newspaper journalist. Prior to joining CAI, she was a reporter businesses, nonprofits, magazines, families, and Central Asia for daily newspapers in Maine and Georgia, a U.S.-based Institute. Prior to starting her own business, she spent 17 years at reporter for Lafferty Publications in Dublin, Ireland, managing the Rocky Mountain News in Denver and nine years at the Los editor at the Livingston (Mont.) Enterprise, and assistant Angeles Times, where she began her career as an intern. She has managing editor of the Bozeman (Mont.) Daily Chronicle. won numerous local and national awards for her photography, Her 2007 stories on CAI’s work in Afghanistan and Pakistan including two Pulitzer Prizes while at the Rocky Mountain were nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and she has received News, where she was also Photographer of the Year in 2008. numerous awards for her reporting, writing, and editing. She Her work over the years took her to Italy, Jamaica, Mexico, and earned her bachelor’s degree in urban studies and journalism Cambodia, and now, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Tajikistan. She from Macalester College in Minnesota and master’s degree in earned a bachelor’s degree in English literature from University journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School of of California Los Angeles. She lives in Denver with her husband, Journalism in Illinois. She lives in Montana with her husband, Steve Katich, and their two dogs, Manny and Jane. Steve has Kimball Leighton, and their two dogs, Darwin and Beatle. Their two grown daughters: Helen is a student at CU Boulder and daughter, Carmine, lives in Missoula. Karin can be reached at Alexandra lives and works in New York City. Ellen can be reached klronnow@gmail.com. at ejaskol@hotmail.com.40 | Journey of Hope