Earlier this year, we put out a plea for help to repair damaged and crumbling schools and build two new structures for students crammed into small homes or studying in the open air. Hundreds of people from across the country, and even across the world, came together and pitched in to make sure students in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Tajikistan have a safe space to learn.
These crucial capital spring projects would still be at a standstill without the incredible support of CAI donors, and we are excited to share with you a few updates on some of the projects.
Long-time CAI supporter, Archie Ostreicher was thumbing through his copy of Footsteps magazine when he read about Garhill Preschool and the footbridge that was in disrepair in Kishmanjo. He thought to himself, “This is something I can help with.”
Ten years ago, he began teaching Sunday school to preschool-age children, and he was in awe of their desire to learn. They absorbed the lessons, and remembered the details well, even weeks later. He thought about the children in Garhill, many of whom are the same age as the children in his classes.
“These little kids are just hungry for information. It was really a crime that they don’t have a venue where they can learn,” he thought. He picked up the phone and called CAI to tell us he would cover the cost of the preschool and the Kishmanjo footbridge, which had fallen into such disrepair that students could no longer use it to reach their classroom on the other side of the river.
Thanks to Archie, the footbridge is fixed and children are getting ready to start school again. Construction on the Garhill preschool is underway. The foundation has been poured and the walls are up. The project is expected to be finished in October, ready to welcome preschoolers into a fresh, new building.
For Archie, the children’s determination to learn inspired his gift, “It’s amazing to see these kids who have very little in the way of resources, but they want to learn anyway.”
This year we set out to build a primary school for the community of Ray-e-Abisham, outside of Ishkashim in northern Afghanistan. The local children study in the open air, and a warm, dry school would give them shelter and protection ensuring they won’t miss school during bad weather. Unfortunately, engagements with the Taliban closed down the main road to the small village blocking access during the short window to deliver supplies.
In a statement from CAI’s Executive Director Jim Thaden, we announced the project is on hold until next year and funds will be held. Our first priority is the safety of our staff and participants and we rely on their advisement and understanding of the situation on the ground.
Diamer is one of the most conservative regions in northern Pakistan, and village mullahs were wary of outsiders coming in and taking control of the education for their children. The area had a high school, but it was never used and had fallen into disrepair. CAI’s in-country partner, Central Asia Institute Gilgit (CAI-G) started a conversation with the mullahs and gained their trust. They decided they wanted to open the high school again, but the building needed significant repairs and new supplies. Thanks to our amazing donors, Julia Amaral and Mark Strate, the repairs can be finished and the school will open to students.
Julia says, “We believe in CAI’s mission and what they are working to accomplish by educating girls in war torn parts of the world. Educating women is a major factor in improving the social and economic consciousness of rural societies. By building a school we are saying to future students and their parents that there are people in the world who care and want them to succeed.”
There were also several other schools in northern Pakistan that had fallen into disrepair or lacked potable water and toilets. Many children stayed home from school due to the conditions. Once again, CAI donors made sure those repairs can be finished so students can have a safe place to learn.
This spring people from all walks of life came together to make sure communities in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Tajikistan have access to education. These many spring projects represent a small portion of the work to be done, but they will all create a huge impact over the years. The compassion and determination from so many are overwhelming and is vital to ensuring these important projects are finished. Congratulations CAI family on reaching these goals. We’ve taken a quick moment to celebrate, and we’re back to work looking for the next key building blocks to reach our ultimate goal: peace through education. Thank you for standing with us along the way.
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