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2011 joh


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2011 joh

  1. 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. 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. 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’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 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. 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. 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 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. 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. 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 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. 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. 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 ( 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 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. 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. 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. 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. 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 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. 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. 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. 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