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Last year closed with an exciting electricity. People all over the world felt a desire to mobilize, to raise their voices for the causes they believe in, and to band together to create change. With a new year and a blank slate stretched out before us, it may seem daunting to incorporate that momentum into your New Year’s resolutions and goals. If you’re creative, like our friends overseas, you might be surprised at the number of ways you can make a difference in the lives of others as well as your own, all without spending even one cent.

Overseas Family Bands Together to Realize Goals

The communities we work in are some of the poorest places in the world. The villages don’t have money to build schools for their children, but they have other resources that are just as valuable and necessary to accomplish their goals and support the cause of education.

In Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan the children desperately needed a school. Dawar Khan, a local shopkeeper and father to four girls, believed so strongly in the need for equal education, that he donated most of his land to build a school. He kept one small strip of land for his shop and helped built the new girls’ high school behind it. He loves saying hello to the children as they pass by on their way to school, and he’s proud that he contributed to their education.

In some of the more conservative villages, women are discouraged from traveling long distances alone. Still, the women want education more than anything. In these instances, one woman will offer her home, often one room, as a literacy center and a space where women can safely learn to read and write. These lessons are held six days a week for several hours, which can put a strain on the woman hosting the lessons. No matter the inconvenience, she is proud that she can help her fellow sisters learn to read and write.

Sometimes whole villages will come together and give whatever they can to build a school for their children. While CAI provides building supplies and skilled labour, it’s almost always the villagers who lend their time and manpower to erect a school, build a boundary wall, or install a water pump. These projects would never be finished without their knowledge, skills, and willingness to work hard.

Think Outside the Box for Opportunities to Accomplish More

As our communities in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan show, you can support causes that are important to you in myriad ways. Every action you take makes a difference, whether it’s helping someone with heavy grocery bags to their cars or donating your time to helping at-risk youth. When you share skills, time, or even just your voice, you can help accomplish more. If you want to include CAI in your goals for giving back, you can check out these suggestions for getting involved. Let 2017 be the year you let your gifts shine.

Race Into The New Year

Is one of your New Year’s goals to run a 10k, half marathon, or even a full marathon? We want to help motivate you on that journey. CAI charity bibs are available for several races across the country including the San Francisco Half Marathons and the Rock and Roll marathon series across the country. Check out these dates and let your goal help girls in Central Asia achieve their dreams.

San Fransisco Half Marathon (first half and second half): July 23rd

Rock and Roll 10k, half marathon, and full marathon:

Washington DC: March 11
Dallas: March 18-19
Mexico City: March 19
San Francisco: March 26
Raleigh: April 1-2
Nashville: April 29
San Diego: June 3-4
Seattle June: 18
Chicago: July 15-16

For more information contact Jennifer Pearson at jpearson@centralasiainstitute.org.