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In This Issue
Trailblazers of Tomorrow...CAI Scholarship Candidates
New Publications Available January 22!
90 Million Pennies Collected for Peace
New Schools for a New Year
Greg Mortenson receives Pakistan's Highest Civil Award
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Dear Friends of Central Asia Institute (CAI) and Pennies For Peace (P4P),

Greg Mortenson- Enable ImagesAsalaam Alaikum - Peace be with you.  Thanks for signing up for our e-Publication, Alima, that keeps you e-posted on our achievements and upcoming events. Alima (pronounced ah-LEE-mah), means a learned and wise female. An Arabic name of Hebrew origin, it stems from eilm, meaning knowledge in Urdu or a well yielding much water in Arabic. Aalim denotes a male scholar in Arabic and Urdu, with Alima being the feminine form.

Alima keeps you e-updated on Central Asia Institute's (CAI) community projects in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and Pennies For Peace (P4P) children's programs. To help reduce our printing and postage costs, please also urge friends and family to sign up for our quarterly e-Newsletter. 

We are thrilled at the release of two new books for children; Three Cups of Tea, Young Adult version (Puffin),
Listen To The Wind (Dial). ThEnable Imagese book, Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace, One school at a Time (Penguin 2007), continues to raise awareness around the world, (now published in 29 countries with 2.4 million sold). Three Cups of Tea has been a N.Y. Times bestseller for 103 weeks since its release, required reading in 57 Universities, over 300 High Schools, shared by tens of thousands of book clubs, and even required reading for Pentagon officers in counter-intelligence training and some Special Forces deploying to Afghanistan in CAI's efforts to promote peace.

Despite a volatile global economy and unrest in Pakistan and Afghanistan, your support empowered CAI to make important progress in 2008.Two years of building relationships (three cups of tea-drinking-style) enabled CAI to expand into two new Afghanistan provinces (Kunar and Panjshir) with four schools, and establish four more in the rugged NE Wakhan corridor. In Pakistan, CAI built six new schools in the remote, earthquake areas of Azad Kashmir, and five schools each in Baltistan, Hunza, and the Punjab heartland. Most important, we significantly built up our teacher training initiative, and expanded CAI's scholarship program for graduates.

Our dedicated CAI office staff work fastidiously to coordinate and communicate with you - they extend their gratitude. And a big thanks on behalf of the tens of thousands of children in Pakistan and Afghanistan who you have given hope to, through education and literacy.

Blessings of Peace for a Joyous New Year,

Greg Mortenson

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New Publications Available January 22!
Enable Two Cups of Tea ImageReading That Matters

On January 22nd 2009, two new CAI-related books were released for children; version (Puffin) and Three Cups of Tea: Young Readers, Listen To The Wind (Dial). The Pennies for Peace Toolkit was also launched and our new Journey of Hope II is now also available

Read more about all of our new publications here

TUNE IN: Watch Greg & Amira on NBC TODAY 

AmiraGreg and his daughter Amira Mortenson appeared on the NBC Today show on Thursday, January 22, in conjunction with the release of Three Cups of Tea Young Readers book. Watch it here now!

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Trailblazers of Tomorrow
Stories of CAI Scholarship Program Candidates 

Enable ImagesCentral Asia Institute's Scholarship Program awards
advanced academic scholarships for disadvantaged students meeting their residential, educational and living costs. Rural students who graduate from provincial schools in Pakistan face a dearth of supplementary education options. Students can apply through the local CAI project manager for a scholarship to a secondary school, high school, college, or university. Scholarships include room, board, tuition, school supplies, textbooks, uniforms, and travel to and from school.

Read on here for more information about CAI's Scholarship program

CAI students-the trailblazers of tomorrow-are selected for scholarships by the communities, schools, families, teachers and CAI regional staff. Here are just some of the stories of these brave students who are the architects of the future, crafting new role-model-molds for the next generation of girls in Pakistan.

Nasreen's Story:  A Lamp Inside Her

Enable ImagesDespite life's arduous circumstances, Nasreen (shown here with her two daughters) prevailed and got the education she desired.
"It was like a lamp inside me that refused to be snuffed out," she says.

Gul Nasreen is an ideal exemplar of CAI's successful Scholarship Program. Originally from the Charpusan Valley, she has relocated to Rawalpindi, where she studies at the Institute of Health Management, working toward her Medical Assistant Degree and specializing in Emergency First Aid Procedure. Nasreen has come a long way from her village of Zuudkhaan, which she says is a 14-hour drive from Gilgit and 30 hours from Rawalpindi, along the Karakoram Highway's circuitous mountain routes. 

Read more about Nasreen's story here

Fozia Naseer:  US Scholarship Student

Student CandidateWhen Fozia Naseer, a teacher in Azad Jammu Kashmir,  finished her studies as a law student, she pursued her long-cherished dream of studying in America-far away from her remote village of Pattika. Fozia's father passed away when she was a toddler and she was raised by her uncle who had been supporting the extended family on his retirement pension.

Since the 2005 earthquake, Fozia and her mother have been living in a United Nations tent amid the rubble of their house. In 2006, CAI granted Fozia a scholarship to help with her law school tuition, books, and daily transport from her village to Muzaffarabad. She is a gifted and intensely determined student with a BA in Education for teaching, a BS in Economics and Geography, and an MA in Education in Political Science from Azad Kashmir University.

Continue reading story here

Ghosia Mughal: Inspiratonal Survivor

Enable ImagesGhosia is a bright and very high-need scholarship student finishing eighth grade in a CAI school. Her village of Pattika was devastated by the cataclysmic earthquake of October 2005. Though traumatized the death of her schoolmates, Ghosia was one of the first students to return to school after the earthquake. She inspired other students to attend classes in a tent for 15 months and now is grateful to be studying at the earthquake-safe CAI Pattika Girls' School.

Continue reading story here

Saima Azghar:  Never Give Up

Enable ImagesSaima Asghar was the first woman in Pattika village to receive an MA in English, from Azad Kashmir University in Muzaffarabad. Tragically, she was paralyzed from the waist down in the earthquake, before which, she used to teach English in the village of Kahori, a perilous one-hour drive from her hometown of Pattika. These villages are dotted along the picturesque but treacherous mountainous range of the Neelum Valley.

On October 8th, 2005, the roof collapsed at the school where Saima taught, trapping her in the rubble with the bodies of those who perished. Her friend and colleague Fozia Naseer says, "In the earthquake's chaotic aftermath, Saima's parents back in Pattika village heard the incorrect report that she was safe." No one came to rescue her as she lay imprisoned by the debris. She says it rained that night, and the October chill of the mountains aggravated her condition.

 Continue reading story here

Azad Kashmir Local Teachers:  Dedicated to Serve

Enable ImagesThese university-level students are all local teachers from Azad Kashmir who are anxious to study further.  They have applied for CAI scholarships to various universities in Islamabad. All of these young women are diligent, bright-eyed and highly motivated applicants for CAI scholarships. They teach in private schools in Azad Kashmir and at the same time are studying remotely toward undergraduate-equivalent degrees in Economics, Civics, Islamic Studies, Political Science, English, and Arabic as private candidates through an extension of Azad Kashmir University administered by CAI's brilliant teacher and ex-Taliban member, Shaukat Ali.

Continue reading story here

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90 Million Pennies Collected for Peace

New Pennies for Peace Toolkit

Enable Images "Our children's Pennies for Peace program has turned on the afterburners," says Greg Mortenson. "In 2007, P4P was in 278 schools. This year, P4P had over 2,900 registrations and continues to go bananas in schools, libraries and children's groups."

Christiane Leitinger, Pennies For Peace Program Director, explains that students of all ages, inspired to make difference with their own projects, both in their own backyard and overseas. She is thrilled that students of all ages brought in the equivalent of 90 million pennies to help poor children halfway around the world. P4P has a service-learning program, which guides hundreds of thousands of children around the world to participate in P4P in their schools, scout troops, faith groups, clubs and homes.

Leitinger presented a new Pennies for Peace Toolkit now available on a web-platform at the Pennies For Peace website. Hardcopies will also be available, but we urge schools to use the web-platform to help us save our pennies!

For more Pennies for Peace and Toolkit details click here

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Star Award for Greg Mortenson
Pakistan's Highest Civil Award, Sitara-e-Eisaar

5-Star Award
The Pakistan government announced that Greg Mortenson, director of Central Asia Institute, will receive Pakistan's civilian award, Sitara-e-Eesaar (The Star of Sacrifice), in an Islamabad civil ceremony on March 23rd, 2009. Only three foreigners have ever received this award. This honor is awarded to those individuals in recognition of their extraordinary philanthropy and service of humanity.

"It is humbling," said Mortenson. "This really represents and belongs to the millions of determined children and communities who aspire to hope through education."

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New Schools for a New Year
Baltistan Project Update

Enable ImagesCAI's Baltistan Project Manager-Greg Mortenson's longtime ally-Mohammed Nazir, is currently wrapping up the construction of four brand-new schools in different villages of Baltistan, (the province where the original Korphe School is situated). These are the Al-Abaid Astana School, the Dhaghoni School, the Ban Basha School, and the Mayourdu School. I recently spoke with Nazir, who-true to CAI Pakistan staff form-was busy in the homestretch before the new schools' inauguration. He was concurrently ordering furniture, hiring teachers, and orchestrating the exchange of ideas with local community leaders, mullahs, landowners, parents and students of all schools.

"We have never finished CAI schools this quickly," he says. "It is unprecedented how fast these schools were constructed, from the laying of the foundation to the construction of the roofs-all in a matter of 25 days."

Behind that proficiency is the CAI Pakistan staff groundwork of many years: scouting for the right projects, a grasp of the logistics of rural construction, and the cultivation of relations with local communities; asking them to donate land and labor and thus empowering them to take proud ownership of the school. "Their cooperation made the projects proceed smoothly," Nazir says. "When the community works peaceably together, the results are astonishing."

As with all projects, there were a few bumps along the way.
"One of the biggest challenges in the construction of these schools was the transportation of materials and building supplies to these far-flung villages," says Nazir.

Read about the challenges here

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Alima e-Note

Naya Saal Mubarak! Happy New Year, from Central Asia Institute! Thanks for reading, Alima, the first edition of our quarterly newsletter, which aims to keep benefactors and friends e-informed about Central Asia Institute.
Please email us at alima@ikat.orgfor questions, comments and what you would like to read in future issues. Also, pass this along to friends and family (sign up here: and help us reduce our carbon footprint!

Shukria: Thank you!              
Sadia Ashraf                                
Central Asia Institute

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