Friday, September 2, 2005

Sun Valley School is built a world away


By DANA DUGAN
Express Staff Writer

Julia Bergman of the Central Asia Institute places a stone where the new Sun Valley School will be. Above the sign is Akhon Alika, who donated the land for the school. The school's teacher, Ghulam Abass, is to the right of Bergman in the argyle sweater.

The Sun Valley School in the high mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan has begun its building stage, Hailey resident Liz Schwerdtle announced.

In February 2004, she and her sister Amy Bingham began a fund-raising push called "Build a School, Change the World." They raised more than the necessary $25,000 from donations from residents of the Wood River Valley by the end of the year to send to the Central Asia Institute. Based in Bozeman, Mont., the institute is a nonprofit organization started in 1996. Initial funds to establish CAI were provided by Dr. Jean Hoerni, a Swiss physicist who was one of the pioneers of the Silicon Valley microchip industry.

Hoerni's widow, Jennifer Wilson, a resident of the Wood River Valley, owns Isabel's Needlepoint shop in Ketchum. CAI began building schools, especially with the idea of educating girls. Villagers must match the funds in resources and labor, which is part of the process of granting them ownership of the school.

This past July, Julia Bergman of Central Asia Institute attended the "stone" breaking ceremony for the school in Kandey, a remote mountain village of northern Pakistan in the Karakoram Range.

"A beautiful piece of land for the school was donated by Akhon Alika," Schwerdtle said. "On behalf of the villagers of Kandey (especially the girls), thank you once again to everyone who participated in making this school a reality."




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