Central Asia Institute

June 11 2012  

Greetings from CAI headquarters in Bozeman, Mont.

We're happy to share lots of good news with you this month, including a letter from CAI Co-founder Greg Mortenson, who has spent the past month in Pakistan. The letter also includes numerous links to blog posts he and CAI Communications Director Karin Ronnow wrote from the field.


The warmer weather overseas finds everyone in CAI's extended family busy with project visits and planning in the far-flung communities we serve. On this side of the world, CAI-US staff has been working hard to facilitate the FY2010 audit, introduce new CAI board members and craft a new interactive mapping feature for our website.

Next month we hope to bring you news about CAI's new board members, along with a status report on CAI's 2012 projects and new field reports (and photos) from Afghanistan.

As always, we appreciate your continued support and urge you to share this e-mail and any other communication with your friends and family.       



Greg writes to supporters

Asalaam-o-Alaikum - Peace be with you.

With gratitude, I write to you from Skardu, Pakistan, on a beautiful spring day to share Central Asia Institute's (CAI) latest news and our plans for the year ahead, thank you for your incredible backing, and appeal - on behalf of the children here - for your continued support.


This is my third trip to Afghanistan and/or Pakistan since last fall, and it is a delight to be back with the communities we serve. Last November, I voluntarily stepped down as CAI's executive director, and now function in a less public role, focused on nurturing relationships, supporting CAI overseas, and encouraging kids around the world to make a difference for peace. "Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing," Theodore Roosevelt once said. And after the past year, I am more convinced than ever that promoting education, especially for girls, is work worth doing. 

CAI Co-founder Greg Mortenson greets students at CAI's Hyderabad School in Baltistan's Shigar Valley, Pakistan. Photo by Mohammad Nazir, Central Asia Institute, 2012.


Spring is a beautiful time in the mountain areas, and when schools begin the new academic year. Kids and teachers are excited to return to classes. But the joys are always juxtaposed with sorrow as communities reflect on those who did not survive the long, hard winter. Dwindling food stocks and diseases like TB, typhoid, meningitis, dysentery and diarrhea (the No. 1 killer) take a terrible toll. Life can be harsh, and even more difficult due to natural disasters, ongoing conflicts and government apathy.


This reality is especially poignant for me this year. While so many suffer without basic health care, I was privileged to have open-heart surgery to repair a large hole and a life-threatening aneurysm last June. The result is that I am healthy and strong. But here, too many children die or are permanently disabled simply because they lack access to cheap vaccinations, vitamins, anti-worming medications, or oral rehydration solutions to reverse diarrhea-induced dehydration.


Education, especially for girls, will bring change, but it will take at least a generation. There is much work still to be done. 
CAI's projects in Pakistan and Afghanistan are strong, and our dedicated staff is working hard for the future. Our "one-by-one" school survey continues as we verify and document the status of every single CAI project since our inception. Also this year, existing projects are being refurbished and strengthened to ensure sustainability. For teachers, we have provided significant pay raises, and enhanced training. And we are collaborating with communities on the never-ending requests for new projects.

We have new schools under way in the Hindu Kush Mountains near Broghil Pass, Pamir Mountains of Gorno-Badakhshan Oblast (GBAO) in Tajikistan, tribal areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Kunar provinces, and the great Karakoram Range encompassing Baltistan. In some districts, we've had to halt or delay construction due to flooding, fighting, or government corruption, but we do everything we can to encourage those communities to not give up, and support them with teachers and materials.

Besides the death of my father and sister, the past year has been the most challenging time of my life. At times, facing so much - open-heart surgery, legal investigations, allegations and assumptions - was difficult beyond words for my family and me. However, it also turned out to be a blessing, to remind me of the virtues of humility, love, and compassion.

During the difficult times, I often recalled a Persian proverb familiar to many in the remote communities of Afghanistan and Pakistan: "When it is dark, you can see the stars."


Greg Mortenson helps a villager dig the hole for the first stone in the foundation of a new CAI school in Zil, Baltistan, Pakistan. Photo by Mohammad Nazir, Central Asia Institute, 2012.

We have made a concerted effort to document and communicate the stories of the people we serve. This includes our often-updated CAI Communique blog, Alima (e-news), Twitter and Facebook  posts, and infrequent mailings. We try to minimize paper mailings, however many supporters, especially the elderly, do request "infrequent" mail updates. The Communiqué also provides a place where CAI can alert supporters to the latest news. This is where we reported in April that the Montana Attorney General's office (OAG) had finished its 11-month-long investigation and issued its findings. We encourage you to read the OAG's report posted on our website.


Long before the legal challenges emerged, CAI's dedicated small team had already begun to strengthen accountability, increase transparency (for which Guidestar.com, the largest charity watchdog, gave CAI its Guidestar Seal), and reinforce existing policies and procedures. Those efforts - along with others outlined in the mutually agreed-upon Assurance of Voluntary Compliance (AVC) - will be monitored by the OAG. The newest board members, all highly qualified individuals, will be announced this summer.


May 1 also brought long-awaited good news - dismissal of the lawsuit against CAI and myself, in federal court. In his ruling, Honorable Judge Sam Haddon wrote that over the course of 12 months and five different pleadings, "Plaintiffs have been accorded every opportunity to adequately plead a case, if one exists. Moreover, the imprecise, in part flimsy, and speculative nature of the claims and theories advanced underscore the necessary conclusion that further amendment would be futile...Defendants' motions to dismiss are granted."


We hope that you will continue to support CAI, and tell others about our mission. Our Communiqué blog, Master Project List, Alima e-news, annual financials (since 1996), annual report, annual Journey of Hope publication, Diya feedback comments, interactive project map (by this fall), Twitter, Facebook, OAG investigation findings and AVC, lawsuit dismissal ruling, videos, photos, and much more are posted on our website, www.ikat.org. Please also feel free to contact us at info@ikat.org or 406-585-7841 if we can be of more assistance.

We respect you, and seriously hold your trust in us. In November, we will send out our sixth-annual Journey of Hope with updates, project details, and lots of inspiring stories of the children and communities who you give hope to through your support.

Shukuria, Tashakur, thank you, and blessings of peace,

Greg Mortenson










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Teachers! Stop by and see us at NEA

Pennies for Peace, CAI's service-learning program, will have a booth at the National Education Association Expo in Washington, D.C., June 30 to July 2.P4P Logo

The Expo is one of the largest education conventions in the United States. P4P and CAI staff and volunteers will be at the booth to answer questions and showcase a full array of publications and teaching tools.

Hope to see you there!


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It's easy to share...


Female students line up outside CAI's Korphe School in Baltistan's Braldu Valley to greet "Dr. Greg" in late May. Photo by Mohammad Nazir, Central Asia Institute, 2012.

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.  


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