The first written word was recorded nearly 5,000 years ago. Though literacy has evolved over time, nearly 17% of the world’s population is still illiterate. They can’t even write their names. Many of those people are women who have no access to education or may be barred from seeking education. They have had enough, and women in Central Asia are joining an unstoppable revolution in girls’ education.

Journey of Hope is a chance to tell these unbelievable stories of hope, perseverance, and determination from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan.

This magazine is one of the best yet. Inside, readers will find stories of people standing up to corruption through art, girls who are writing their unstoppable futures, and reflections from CAI co-founder Greg Mortenson on 20 years of lessons learned promoting girls’ education.

We’re so inspired by these tales of strength and purpose, so we decided to give you a sneak peek at some of our favorites.

Afghan Graffiti Artist Takes to the Streets to Stand Up for the People

It’s thirty minutes into our conversation when Omaid Sharifi puts me on hold.

“I’m sorry, my dad is calling. Just a moment.”

Omaid is the co-founder of Artlords, a social and human rights movement that uses art, graffiti in particular, to bring about change in Afghanistan.

After a moment he is back online.

“American University of Afghanistan was attacked. Terrorists… some attackers are inside. All my friends are at the university. One of my friends is injured, so it’s a very tense situation right now. Can you do this later?”

Of course this conversation can wait.

“He’s stuck inside a classroom,” he says of his friend. “I have to find a way to reach him. Please, please we will talk later.”

And then he’s gone.

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Shepherd to Teacher: The story of one girl who took a risk

In the far north of Pakistan, on the border with Afghanistan’s remote Wakhan Corridor, is the village of Garhill. In Garhill, like other villages in the region, most of the men and women are uneducated. A majority of the village’s inhabitants work as shepherds.

The older generation particularly sees no need for schooling. Why worry about literacy and arithmetic when you spend most of your time tending sheep, goats, and yaks? Education would be a waste, especially for girls, they say. But one man saw it differently. He saw the great important of girls’ education.

Having worked as a policeman at the Afghanistan-Pakistan border for over 30 years, Aziz Begum had traveled outside of his home village and seen more of Pakistan than most people in his hometown. He was open to the idea of education, even for his daughter Gulnar.

What did Gulnar grow up to be? READ MORE

Journey of Hope 2016

Girls’ Education – The Unstoppable Revolution

In a conservative village in eastern Afghanistan’s Laghman province, 30 women have gathered for their fourth day of class. They are participants in a CAI-sponsored literacy program.

Marzia, who is 30 years old, sits quietly at the back of a makeshift mudbrick classroom. She adjusts her blue burqa to sit more comfortably as she thinks about how to answer the question, why is education so important for women?

“We are a group of poor farmers,” she says through a translator. “We don’t have our own house; we don’t have electricity; we don’t have security. But now we have education.”

Read more unstoppable stories in the digital issue

Journey of Hope chronicles the stories of people around the world who are picking up pencils, paintbrushes, books, and microphones in favor of girls’ education. This is our chance to tell their stories and to let their voices reverberate in the hearts and minds of anyone who thinks education, and especially girls’ education, is the surest path to lasting peace. Read our digital copy or request a magazine be mailed right to your house. If you’re inspired or moved to do something, share the stories with friends and family or donate to the cause. Now is your chance to join the unstoppable revolution.

Learn more about Central Asia Institute, girls’ education efforts, and our outreach program:

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