Central Asia Institute

1 December 2011


Dear friends,


Asalaam Aleikum, peace be with you. And happy holiday season!


For Central Asia Institute, the holiday season marks the annual release of our

Journey of Hope publication. This is the fifth volume of the report that documents CAI's work in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan.


From Korphe to Kabul to Khorog, the stories in the Journey of Hope paint a vivid, in-depth picture of CAI's projects in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and now Tajikistan.


Collecting those stories means traveling hither and yon to visit CAI's schools, women's literacy

vocational centers, home-based health workers' infirmaries and water projects; scholarship students; various projects under construction; and communities requesting CAI's help.   


We at CAI believe that these stories help connect our supporters with the people we help and go a long way toward helping us understand that we are all much more alike than we are different. We hope you agree.   


Here is a peek at some of the stories and photographs in the JOH, as well as some highlights of this year's edition:

Korphe to Kabul

Journey of Hope Vol. 5 includes the story of our visit to the second incarnation of the first school CAI ever built, in Korphe. This people of this remote village high in the Karakoram Mountains of northern Pakistan consider CAI's co-founder Greg Mortenson a member of their extended family and were eager to share stories and show off their new school building.

CAI's Ishkashim Girls' High School


There is also a piece about CAI's work in the Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan, where a string of projects bearing the organization's signature sitara, or white star, dot the stark landscape. The string of stars in a region long neglected or ignored by government and international development groups epitomizes the Persian proverb, "When it is dark, you can see the stars."


Greg Mortenson in Afghanistan & Tajikistan

JOH also contains short descriptions and

Greg Mortenson "learns to count" at one of CAI's four schools in Zebak District, Badakhshan Province, Afghanistan.

photos of the projects Greg visited in Afghanistan and Tajikistan in November after his doctors cleared him to travel following his recovery from open-heart surgery.



His amazing ability to connect with people is revealed in his description of "learning to count" with school children in northeast Afghanistan's Badakhshan Province. And his encouragement of two young women on different paths to healthcare careers - one in medical school and one in a public-health training program -demonstrates once again his unique understanding of the complexities of poverty and possible solutions. 



CAI Project Survey
   Musakhil Girl's Primary School      Gulapur Girls' Primary School         Pushgar Girls' Primary School
   Parwan Province, Afghanistan      Baltistan, Pakistan                       Panjshir Province, Afghanistan


All these projects and more are reflected in the story on CAI's ongoing project survey, illustrated with small photos of dozens of CAI's schools, vocational centers and water projects. The survey results are itemized in our master list, a "living" document of our work to help communities build a better future for themselves.



Author and photographer  -by Karin Ronnow
As I noted last week on the blog, the Journey of Hope, or JOH, is a big production and everyone who works for CAI - in the United States and overseas - plays a role in getting it done. But it is photojournalist Ellen Jaskol and I who have the privilege of collecting the images and stories.


Getting around to document these projects is not easy. Greg's vision of working in some of the world's "last best places" translates into some rough travel for anyone determined to see the projects in person.


For weeks, we live out of duffel bags and backpacks, on the road with CAI's project managers.

Ellen Jaskol and Karin Ronnow in Zebak District, Badahkshan Province, Afghanistan, September, 2011.


We stop at police and military roadblocks and sign in and out.


We sleep on floors in people's homes and wake with the roosters.


We pop ibuprofen for sore backs, necks and shoulders.


We meet people unaccustomed to foreigners. And we get stared at - a lot.


But as Ellen once said, "I love it. Nowhere else in my life do people see me and get so excited that they run home and tell their mothers!"


For the second year running, her photos capture that enthusiasm and the pride of local people, as well as the heartbreaking realities of life in the impoverished, remote communities we serve. Her photos are a window into a world few people get to see.


That our travels sometimes make family and friends a little nervous is probably an understatement. They worry.


But to paraphrase something author Ethan Casey said at CAI's October "Building Bridges of Peace Conference" in Chicago: The world is not primarily a scary place. It is primarily a place full of interesting people and countless stories.


And, for me, that's it. Those people and their stories make every bump in the road well worth it. I wouldn't trade this work for anything. After all, telling stories is what I do.


NOTE: Ellen and I are also available to share our photos and stories. For more information about scheduling an appearance, call 406.585.7841 or email media@ikat.org.


To see the electronic version of the Journey of Hope, Vol. 5, click here.

With thanks and best wishes

In the letter to supporters that accompanies the Journey of Hope Vol. 5 mailing this month,acting executive director Anne Beyersdorfer thanked CAI's supporters "for their continued compassion and generosity during CAI's historic 2011."

Student at CAI's English and Computer School in Kabul.


Her letter offers insight into some of the changes at CAI in the past year, including the organizational shift "conceived of years ago and accelerated by unprecedented events this past year."


She emphasized that ,"the principles that guided Greg in building CAI's strong foundation will continue to serve the organization. CAI is focused on the continuity of our relationships, the importance of our mission, and the accountability to both." 


And her list of the organization's operational accomplishments - including a restated mission; the project survey and master list; updated bylaws and policies, with particular attention to overseas expenditures; an updated website; and an annual report - offer insight into the CAI's evolution.


"Central Asia Institute and the communities we serve are profoundly grateful for your continued support," Anne wrote. "As it says on the signs that mark CAI's overseas projects, each one is 'A Gift to the Children.' Thank you for your part in helping them build a better future for themselves."

2012 Journey of Hope Calendar
Click here to purchase

And it wouldn't be a holiday season without a new CAI Journey of Hope calendar for the coming year.


This year's edition includes more of Ellen's stunning photos, taken during our travels overseas to document Central Asia Institute's projects.


All purchases help us with our mission to promote and support community-based education, especially for girls, in remote regions of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan.


The limited-edition wall calendar is available online for $10. You can also order copies by emailing info@ikat.org or calling 406.585.7841. 

It's easy to share...
Kuchi children study outside in the Char Asiab Valley of Afghanistan's Kabul Province, where CAI provides tent schools to the nomadic Kuchis.

Help us promote girls' education, literacy and peace: one penny, one pencil, one child, one book, and three cups of tea at a time! Make a tax deductible donation to Central Asia Institute to promote and support community-based education, especially for girls, in remote regions of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan.




CAI is U.S. registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, IRS EIN #51-0376237. Contributions are tax-deductible

in the U.S.



 For the latest news, check out our blog, CAI Communiqué, at www.ikat.org

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