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Editorial: Support the Central Asia Institute

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Editorial: Support the Central Asia Institute

Why this is important as a long-term strategy rather than a short-term crisis response.

I doubt that the Nobel Peace Prize will ever be bestowed upon Greg Mortenson for his work in Pakistan and Afghanistan as the driving force behind the Central Asia Institute.

That would be too out of character for the politicized Nobel selection process, regardless of his outstanding qualifications.

Despite some good choices of laureates in other countries in recent years, the recognition of any of the extraordinary Americans who are doing largely thankless work to improve lives in other countries does not seem to be a priority.

That's OK. Greg does not really need to win their recognition for his work. He has won the enduring friendship of those who he helped in remote valleys before anybody else noticed or cared. He has the admiration of many Americans who have learned of his work and support it.

He needs your quiet support to do even more for the people he serves - not a Nobel Prize. If there were a Frank Capra prize for noble service, he should win it.

Why should you care and donate?

There are countless organized charities and ordinary volunteers doing good work in their own communities as well as all over the world.

Some are very efficient - meaning that as much as possible of your donation goes directly to helping the people in need, and produces demonstrable results with a lasting impact on society.

That's the nature of this initiative, which has had a huge impact by helping to educate thousands of children with only very limited resources available.

Why do I care? I visited many of these places before the rise of the Taliban and foreign extremists who have ruthlessly exploited these people to advance their own power ambitions.

I have had countless cups of tea among them. Their hospitality is legendary. They are good people who are trying to build a better future for themselves and their families and communities.

This is economic development at the most basic level - educating children so that they can grow up and realize ambitious dreams, not merely survive.

Please support the good work in rural northern Pakistan and Afghanistan by the Central Asia Institute. www.ikat.org

If you haven't read the remarkable book about Greg Mortenson and his work setting up schools there, "Three Cups of Tea", you should do so.

Have you made a political donation?

Think about this for a moment. In the present US presidential campaign, the candidates have been raising and spending tens of millions of dollars every month, largely on advertising to promote their own ambitions with other people's money.

That's OK. The fundraising and spending may be out of control, but it's the nature of the political marketplace in the United States. Attracting the attention and support of tens of millions of voters across a vast and diverse country in order to win an election is a huge task.

If you have donated to the career ambitions of any politician or their party, however, think about doing even more for a worthy charity. Unlike political fundraising, there are no limits on such charity.

If you really want to encourage positive changes in the world, invest in the people who are doing it.

The political and media circus about this election, like the one described so well in "Three Cups of Tea" about the Marriott in Islamabad, will soon pass. The investment in an election is a very short term one. Do all those millions really help to create a better society? Is that much money necessary?

Have your children learned charity?

Whenever there is a natural disaster, famine, or war, much of the attention in the news media is on (a) who to blame for it and (b) images of intolerable suffering. Many organized charities rely on such tragic images in TV or print ads to attract the donors they need. They appeal to the humanitarian sense of pity for those who face great suffering. They appeal to our empathy for people, and especially children, who don't deserve to suffer this way. That's not what CAI is about. The needs may be immediate and vastly greater than the resources, but it's about making lasting progress.

Charity is different than crisis response. It is a natural part of our own humanity, but it is learned social behavior. It is learned by setting good examples through many acts of kindness which may have no anticipation of reward other than feeling good about having helped somebody else.

We are not rescuing somebody else in this process. We are reinforcing our own commitment to humanity and social harmony by taking direct responsibility for individual acts of charity and kindness to uplift our world. We can achieve better outcomes together. That's the most basic foundation of a society. We are taking personal responsibility for good outcomes, not assigning blame to others for failing to make the world around us better. We each do what we can, and it all adds up and sets a good example for others.

Buy the book. Tell your friends about it. Discuss it.

Get your library to feature it - not just store it somewhere. If they don't have a copy, donate one today.

Tell your children about it, and discuss how they can help other children. They all perceive love and ego from birth, but they learn to be charitable by inspiration. Recognize their charity, but be humble about your own.

Tell their teachers and friends about it. Tell groups. Spread the word. It adds up.

This is not about imposing our cultural or religious views on others. It is not about war or terrorism or extremism or even about tolerance of our differences. It is expanding our humanity as friends.

Return on charitable investment

If each US election is worth hundreds of millions of dollars in campaign donations, without even taking into consideration the vast costs of war, then surely effective charitable work like this deserves more private investment by individuals and businesses.

It is staggering how much the Central Asia Institute has accomplished over the years with a fairly small budget. While a celebrity political fundraising dinner may raise millions of dollars in one night and really have very little of lasting value to show for it, CAI has accomplished great things with small sums of money applied carefully to local needs.

Invest in the impact which CAI is making

There are literally thousands of very successful economic development and commercial real estate professionals in the market I serve. My websites attract tens of thousands of visitors each month, including top executives who are planning capital investment projects worth tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars. Those visitors also have many influential contacts in their communities.

Imagine the positive impact if only a few hundred of these contacts became ongoing supporters of CAI, both financially and by helping to spread the word through their networks of contacts. This is not a huge charity with high administrative overheads and fundraising costs. Your help can make a big difference in many lives.

For more information about CAI, refer to the Media and Press Center, which has links to many articles and programs about their work.

Look at their Financials

They are transforming the lives of thousands of children on a smaller budget than many local economic development agencies or small consulting practices in the USA. Help them to do even more good work.

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Last modified: 12/20/10