Monday, November 17, 2008

Weekly Spotlight: Central Asia Institute

The Central Asia Institute is a non-profit organization dedicated to building and supporting community-based education is Pakistan and Afghanistan, especially education for girls. Greg Mortenson, co-founder and Executive Director, started the organization in 1996 after he met the Balti people of Pakistan during a climb of the world's second largest mountain, K2. Inspired by his warm welcome into the village of the Balti, Mortenson promised to build the village kids a school. Today, 78 schools have been built and are supported by the organization, along with 520 teachers, and 18,700 students (10,980 are girls).

Each school built by Central Asia Institute takes extreme risks and involvement due to the remote areas of the organizations reach and the general location. The organization is operating in one of the most volatile areas of the world where outside influence and help is not always welcome.

The organization also operates the Pennies for Peace program that teaches American school children about the world beyond their experience and how their help can make a difference to schoolchildren on the opposite side of the globe. Children are taught the giving can make a difference, even if it is one penny at a time.

The Central Asia Institutes formation and Greg Mortenson's story can be found in the novel titled, Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. I read this book in 2007 and even today I remain awed by the sheer determination and risks that Mortenson took to keep his dream alive. Mortenson is truly a inspiring hero and a great example of what a giving heart can achieve.

Click here for more information about the Central Asia Institute and the novel Three Cups of Tea.

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