Central Asia Institute is a non-profit organization with the mission to promote and support community-based education, especially for girls, in remote regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Initial funds to establish Central Asia Institute were provided by Dr. Jean Hoerni, a Swiss physicist, a Silicon valley microchip industry pioneer. Greg Mortenson, co-founder and Executive Director of Central Asia Institute, began his work in northern Pakistan in 1993. Mortenson’s initial development efforts were first inspired by the Balti people he met after a 1993 climb of K2 (world’s second highest mountain).
Mortenson’s work was catalyzed when he met Dr. Hoerni, who provided funding for the first two projects, a bridge over the Braldu River and a school in Korphe village. In 1996, Hoerni established Central Asia Institute, and appointed Mortenson as the director. Tragically, Hoerni died a year later from leukemia. The initial Board of Directors decided to first focus our efforts on one geographic region, Pakistan’s Karakoram Mountains, to gain expertise facilitating community-based projects.
As of 2009, Central Asia Institute has successfully established 130 schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan, which provide (or have provided) education to over 51,000 students, with an emphasis on girls’ education. A few additional projects have been in Mongolia (rural health education) and Kyrgyzstan (teacher training scholarships). Over the first decade of CAI’s evolution, our programs and projects expanded to several regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan with an emphasis on education, health issues, environment and cultural preservation.
Central Asia Institute community projects continue to focus primarily in remote, underserved regions where few organizations serve. Since 2005, CAI refined and focused its priority to focus mainly on rural education and literacy, especially for females. This also includes ongoing teacher training programs, to establish libraries, and provide temporary education in regions of natural disaster or crisis. CAI also continues to pioneer and promote education in regions where there few or no education opportunities.