When you think about your legacy, what comes to mind? Is it your children and grandchildren? Is it a property or business? What about a path forward? Many people associate a legacy with something that lasts after we are gone, but a legacy is a path that connects the past with the present and acts as a guide for the future.
Your legacy has the ability to create lasting change for the future, and it starts with the values you hold dear right now. For example, if you are a teacher who believes in educating children, your legacy is passed down through each student that walks through your classroom. You might pass on this passion to your children who become educators themselves or who ensure your grandchildren have access to education, and you may leave a sum of money to an educational institution in your will.
Because legacies span generations, they are able to and guide and shape the future. At Central Asia Institute we witness the guidance created by legacies as a road map for the long journey to peace.
In Pakistan, where the median age is 23, and Afghanistan, where the median age is 18, a new legacy of education can create a roadmap away from war and extremism and guide this young generation towards peace and equality. At CAI we are fortunate to have donors who want to shape that legacy long after they are gone and have included our organization in planning their estates.
Penny Thomsen is one of the founding members of our Legacy Society. She has decided to let her legacy shape the future of education in these countries. Penny first heard about CAI when co-founder Greg Mortenson spoke at the Des Moines public library book series. She’s been contributing annually ever since.
After sponsoring four men from Tajikistan visiting on agricultural tours to learn about modern farming techniques, she was inspired to take the next step with CAI and join the Legacy Society, “They talked about the lack of education since the country has been on its own [after Soviet occupation].”
Penny has also traveled the world and visited many poor countries where education is unavailable to millions of children who desperately want to go to school. In her spare time she teaches English to refugees and volunteers at a clothes closet. Helping those in need is part of her fabric, and by gifting CAI programs she will have a big impact on the future.
“We won’t know peace until we educate girls and women,” says Penny. “Giving hope through education will make them less vulnerable. It’s the right thing to do.”
Gifts like Penny’s and the other members of the Legacy Society will help the women and girls in the countries we serve carve out a new legacy of education and peace in the countries served by CAI.
Gulnar is the first girl to receive higher educated in Broghil, a small village in northern Pakistan. Despite disapproval and teasing from people who couldn’t understand the value of education, she persevered and became the first healthcare worker and a teacher for the first school in the area.
We first shared her story in this year’s Journey of Hope, where she told of her difficult journey to become educated. Now classes are held through grade 10 in her region, and several girls have scholarships for higher education.
“It was not their custom to send girls to schools, but now they want to send them,” says Saidullah Baig, program manager at CAI’s overseas partner Central Asia Institute-Gilgit. “Now they are making it a priority to send boys and girls to the school.”
The demand for education in Broghil valley and all over Central Asia is increasing, and people like Gulnar and Penny are using their legacies to create a guide and road map for this new desire for education and peace.
Your legacy matters. The things you value and hold dear will be passed down, and the map you create will be etched in time for future generations to follow. Now is the time to help shape the course of history and let your legacy help guide the future. For more information on joining the Legacy Society please check out our legacy page here.
We would like to recognize the founding members of our Legacy Society. Their generosity will help guide the future of education and peace in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan. Thank you for your decision to leave a legacy of education and peace.
Dr. Barbara Marin – GA
Hallie Rugheimer – MT
Penny Thomsen – IA
Louise Cameron – MN
Carol E. Baker – MN
Anonymous – ME
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