Help us meet our goal of raising $50,000

Friday, December 21, 2007

Board of Directors and Other News

Because of the turmoil in Pakistan, the GEI staff has decided that before we can move forward with the Khane project we need to find a local, Pakistan NGO to partner with. I am looking hard for an organization right now. Hopefully we'll find a few candidates before next spring. When we do find some potential partners, someone from our organization will travel to Pakistan to meet with those NGOs and then decide which one we should work with. It looks like we may have to put off the school renovation for yet another year, which is really disappointing. However, in talking with various organizations, we were heartened to discover that we are, in fact, making decent progress, although it feels slow to Heidi, Elizabeth, and I.

Other news:
We have determined our Board of Directors.
Chair: Heidi Wirtz
Vice Chair: Lizzy Scully
Treasurer: Justin Voorhees
Floating Members: Elizabeth O’Neill

Also, I will now be running all ground operations. Heidi and some of our new volunteers, including Amee Hinkley, will be focusing on Stateside fund raising.

Elizabeth O'Neill, as always, is acting as our consultant. (Honestly, we don't know what we'd do without her expertise. Thanks E!)

-Lizzy Scully

Exclusion of Girls from Education in Rural Pakistan

I am currently doing research on potential partner organizations that we might be able to work with. While doing research I came across this interesting article.
For more information, visit the IDP-Europe site by clicking here.

Exclusion of Girls from Education in Rural Pakistan

Parvez Pirzado

This article discusses the issues regarding barriers to girls’ education in rural Pakistan. The data is drawn from various sources and some barriers have been identified which are hindering the progress of achieving the goals of Education for All.

Education for All (EFA) Dakar Framework for Action (2000) considers education as a fundamental human right and ensures good quality education of all children, especially girls, by year 2015. Pakistan is also a signatory of EFA document, but the target of achieving Education for All is still evasive. One of the objectives of Pakistan’s National Education Policy 1998-2010 (Government of Pakistan 1998: 7) is ‘to expand basic education qualitatively and quantitatively by providing the maximum opportunities for free access of every child to education’. The Government of Pakistan is striving to hard to improve the situation and achieve the desirable targets, but the state of education especially for girls in rural areas of Pakistan is alarming. There is lack of educational facilities for girls and high gender disparities are visible in education.

Pakistan has been placed at 135th position (out of 177 countries) in terms of Human Development Index (HDI) (Human Development Report 2005). The HDI is summary of a country’s per capita GNP, literacy rates and life expectancy. Unfortunately Pakistan’s performance is very poor in all the mentioned indicators. The net primary enrolment rate in Pakistan is just 46%, which is lowest in South Asia, and the number of out of school children is 13 million (out of 50 million children of age 5-9 years). Girls’ educational attainment in Pakistan continues to lag behind the level of attainment of boys. This is seen in literacy levels and school enrolment figures, which reveal that large number of girls have limited access to even basic schooling. The overall literacy rate in Pakistan is 43%, but it is alarmingly low at just 18% for rural females. (Social Development in Pakistan 2004)

There are many barriers, and social and cultural reasons for this imbalance such as lack of educational facilities for girls, poverty and child labour. The problem of dropout is very serious and the percentage of dropout before completing the grade V is very high. Currently 56% children leave school before completing grade V (Social Development in Pakistan 2004).

Nicholas Stern (2001) indicated three major social divides in access to education. These are the wide gap between school enrolment rates for children living in urban and rural areas, children from rich and poor families and enrolment along gender lines. One of the major reasons of low female literacy rate is lack of educational facilities for girls, especially in rural areas of Pakistan. The ratio of girls’ primary schools is 35% of all primary schools in the country and the number of female teachers is almost half of the male teachers (Data of 2000-01 available at website: On one hand many families view the formal education of girls as a waste of family resources and give priority to educating sons and on other hand some families who want to educate their daughters can not send them to schools due to lack of separate schools for girls and lack of female teachers. Other factors include the distance of schools from villages and poor quality of teaching. As a result, the educational facilities and resources allocated to girls persistently fall behind those given to boys.

Poverty is another major barrier towards achieving the goal of Education for All. It has increased from 27% to 37% in Pakistan and about two thirds of the rural population lives below poverty line i.e. on less than about $1 a day. (ADB: Pakistan; Country Strategy and Program Update, 2003). In Pakistan where the average family size is as big as 7 (Pakistan Contraceptive Prevalence Survey 1994-95), the income generating opportunities are less for the majority of population, its really difficult for children to be able to get to the school. Most of the children, who do not attend primary school or drop out early, live income poor households (The OXFAM Education Report: 2001). If there is any possibility for the poor to send some of their children to school, they prefer to send boys.

Poverty is closely related to the incidence of child labour. One of the most common reasons for children not attending school is that their families need them to work (EFA Global Monitoring Report 2003-04). With the growing inflation poor families are forced to involve all members in the income generating activities, including children, in order to manage their kitchen. In cases of extreme poverty children may contribute up to 40% of family income for their survival. (DFID: The Challenge of Universal Primary Education, 2001). The rights of children are equally violated when they are forced to contribute to the family income. There are separate activities for girls and boys through which they contribute to family’s Income. Girls in most parts of rural Pakistan are mainly involved in agricultural related activities, taking meals to workings in the field and looking after their younger siblings in case their mothers are also busy in agriculture work. Boys are often involved in selling food, working in garages, shops and carpet weaving businesses. The children mostly involved in child labour are in the age group of 8-15 years. This means that there is an obvious possibility that children leave school before reaching grade V.

The above mentioned barriers clearly indicate that the goal of achieving Education for All is not easy. There is a need for sincere commitment and systematic planning to ensure the inclusion of all children, especially girls, in education in the rural areas of Pakistan.

Parvez Ahmed Pizado works for the Health Education and Promotion section in Aga Khan University - Insitute for Educational Devlopment Karachi, Pakistan. He can be contacted at email:

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Heidi raises $3,000 for GEI!!!

Heidi raised more than $3,000 at the half dozen+ slide shows she did around the West this fall. Congrats Heidi! You are awesome!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Long time no post & new email address for GEI Info

It has been a long time since I've posted on the GEI blog. We're working on the current project in Khane, but are also considering another project in a nearby village. Heidi, Elizabeth, and I are meeting in December to discuss the options and to see where we want to go. Our main goals right now are to:

1. Find a partner in Pakistan who we can work with (Because the country is in such turmoil right now and to more effectively implement the project plan, we feel we need to partner up with a Pakistani organization that does something similar).
2. Write grants for our projects
3. Develop our Board of Directors

FYI, for future communications with me, Lizzy Scully, and or for general information, please email:

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Looking for Board Members

We are currently looking for members who want to serve on the Girls Education International Board of Directors. We are hoping to find people with fund raising experience who are willing to do actual fund raising.

Monday, October 01, 2007

2007 Zack Martin Breaking Barriers (ZMBB) Recipient Update

Brief Synopsis Of Alpine And Humanitarian Objectives
The American Alpine Club Humanitarian Fund---- (ZMBB) is pleased to report that Fabrizio Zangrilli and his team attempted a new route up the south face of K2 and initiated the building of a school and funding of a teacher in the Khane Valley in Pakistan.

Alpine Objective
There were only two summit days over the whole season on K2 and Fabrizio and team were not staged to attempt a summit on a new route up the south face of K2. They climbed up to about 8000m but were turned back by weather. Also Fabrizio and team assisted in a minor rescue on the mountain. This was the third attempt at the south face for Fabrizio and Billy Pierson. They will give K2 another chance to 'allow them to pass'.

Humanitarian Objective

From Fabrizio's trip report:

"The Khane project was really one of the greatest 'adventures' of my life". Abbas (a village elder) and I had organized a "Village Day" at the school. I did this for two reasons: one to try and judge the people's enthusiasm for the school project and also it seemed an efficient way of meeting the village elders and the school committee. This event avoided most of the usual village politics of which house to hold meetings in, who would seem to be the most important elder, etc. Neutral ground seemed the best solution. Most the village's children - boys and girls - attended as well as over 50 adults. Khane has a total population of just under 500, since we were still in the trekking/expedition season I feel the turnout represented most of the adults (male- women do not attend such events) that could be present."

Fabrizio worked with Girls Educational International and after agreeing with village elders the importance of education and the Khane Valley Project and action plan was developed and initiated for the girls’ school and teacher.
To read the official report on the AAC site, please cut and paste this link into your browser:

Monday, September 10, 2007

Second Major GEI Meeting & Fabrizio's Report

We held our second big GEI meeting last night at my humble abode in Lyons. After eating pesto pasta, french bread, and drinking Italian sodas, we listened to Fabrizio Zangrelli give us an overview of what happened on his trip to Khane, Pakistan. I'll post the meeting notes later, but in summary, the project is a go. There are a few minor road blocks we have to take care of (setting up an "Alms" bank account and finding a plot of land on which to build the teacher's home), however, according to Fabrizio, "80% of the village is supportive of the renovation project."

About one-fifth of Khane's villagers showed up to meet with Fabrizio and celebrate the renovation of the girls' school. Photos by Fabrizio Zangrelli

Over the next few weeks Heidi and I will be drawing up the project management plan, I will be looking into potential donors/sponsors for the project, Elizabeth, Meca and I will be working on writing up the grant proposal, Heidi will be preparing for her Slide Show Tour, Daneille and Heidi will be doing additional research on what makes school projects successful in Pakistan, and all of us will be coming up with ideas for fund raising. We did estimate that we need to raise at least $15,000 by next March in order to begin the project in May.

It was determined that the following things need to be done to make the girls' school operational.
1. Dry wall, paint, and carpet the girls' school.
2. Fix the water pump for the girls' school
3. Buy and install a larger cable in order to bring four hours of electricity to the school
4. Install solar panels as a backup for when government provided electricity breaks down
5. Buy and deliver school supplies
6. Build a small home for the teacher
7. Hire a qualified female teacher (he found one willing to work in the village)
8. Hire a guard and a sweeper (standard in Pakistani schools)
9. Open up an "Alms" bank account (Muslim law requires banks to offer 18% interest for charity bank accounts).

Friday, August 31, 2007

World Facts About Education For Girls

This information was compiled by GEI volunteer, Danielle Hoffman.

• Women account for roughly half the world’s population, perform 66% of the hours worked, receive 10% the world’s income and own less that 1% of the world’s property. In accordance to the teachings of Islam, seeking knowledge is obligatory to men AND women. Recent studies show that social benefits (i.e. conflicts, war) are far greater from educating women than from education men in Pakistan.
• Many parents however, avoid enrolling their girls in school because to them it seems pointless to be educated to spend a lifetime doing domestic housework.
• Greater education of women improves the health of their children due to the importance of hygiene and simple remedies. A woman’s child is also more likely to attend school if the mother is educated. A woman’s education also contributes to productivity and economic growth, not only in their generation, but in the next.

Education In Pakistan

This information was compiled by GEI volunteer, Danielle Hoffman.

• Pakistan gained its independence in 1949 from British rule.
• Its population in 1951 was 34 million. In 2005 it was 154 million.
• Prior to British rule, education was free, highly valued and diverse while embracing Islamic teachings. Teachers were free to teach what they felt relevant, and a great deal of trust was placed in these institutions. Education included, among other things, fine arts, drawing, the arts of defense and tactical training, architecture, calligraphy, sculpture medicine, pharmacy and surgery.
• Under British rule, education was reformed and it became restricted to class. Acquaintance with the English language was synonymous with knowledge; the lack of it was considered ignorance.
• With independence, Hindus and Muslims were divided, the latter occupied India, the former, Pakistan. This left Pakistan’s economy, commerce, and educational system in ruins. Many teachers were Indian Hindus. The population surge did nothing but exacerbate the already overwhelmed education sector. At the end of British rule, two types of schools existed: government run and madrassas. The government spends 1.8% of its GDP on schools today. There is a continuous need to increase the defense budget due relations with India, the Kashmir issue, three wars, and East Pakistan’s transformation to Bangladesh. This has been devastating to Pakistan's education funds.
• A 2005 study done by politician Imran Khan found that 15% of government schools are without proper buildings. This means they may be unsafe, partial or non-existing. 52% are without boundary walls. 40% are without running water. 70% of schools are without electricity. 20% of schools reported do not exist structurally, only on paper. In many cases, these nonexistent schools and teachers are still receiving funds from the government, which are already exhausted.
• Of those schools that do exist structurally, 25% of them are without teachers, 70% of them exist but are closed, and no schools have more than half the teachers they’re suppose to have.
• Only half of the children in Pakistan will ever have access to any formal education. Of those who do have access, half of them will drop out before finishing primary school. Many times, this is due to financial constraints on the family.
• The other types of schools that exist in Pakistan are two types of madrassas (or madrasahas):
1. Maktab: devoted entirely to reading, recitation and learning of the Koran. These schools enable the common man to perform daily religious duties. They are similar to Christian Sunday schools.
2. Madaris: teach strict Islam following as well as Islamic sciences. Once primary school in completed, students learn math and science in secondary school. There is much conflicted information about the threat of madrassas throughout the Islamic world. Claims have been made that madrassas are harboring terrorists and that in some cases, they are terrorists training grounds. There have been valid arguments for both sides.
• The fear is that since Saudi Arabia has invested millions of dollars in madrassas throughout Pakistan, Afghanistan, and other Islamic countries, that they must be teaching fundamentalist Islam. Madrassas currently provide free education, room and board, and in some cases, a stipend for families who are losing money due to lost labor of their children. For many parents, madrassas are the only way their children will see an education.
• Parents who cannot afford to send their children to private school or government run schools must send their children to madrassas, where they are guaranteed an extremely conservative education that is grossly inadequate in terms of being applicable to modern day needs, but an education nonetheless. Figures vary greatly, but there are an estimated 800,000 to 1 million students in madrassas across Pakistan.

Friday, August 17, 2007

New Photos of Nisa and Sonam

I just heard from Jamling. He says his girls are doing well in school. They look healthy and happy! Here are a couple photos of them, along with their father.

The latest from Pakistan

This letter was sent to all the GEI volunteers from Heidi in regards to Fabrizio, his trip to K2, and the Zach Martin Breaking Barriers Grant that he won and is using to help lay the groundwork for renovating the Khane school:

Hello everyone,

So, one of the team members from Fabrizio's team just
got back. He said that he went with Fabrizio to one of
Greg M's schools. The info he gave was not as good as
in greg's book. Sounds like there is a problem in the
trickle of money. I guess that the people working at
the school have not been getting there full salary's.
Not sure exactly what is going on, but just goes to
show that no matter how good of a ground structure you
have, things can still get off track over there. Just
something that we should keep in mind. Would be nice
to avoid this type of problem if we can. He did say
that everyone had good things to say about Greg, they
just wanted help. So, I am going to try and contact
Greg and see if there is anything that he can do.

Info on Fabrizio: He just got down from a push style
attempt at the summit of k2. After about 36 hrs they
were turned back due to bad conditions. Sounds like
most people have left base camp. So, hopefully he will
be in Khane soon.

Also, I recieved a check from Jim Donnini at the OR
show. He says he whole heartedly agrees with what we
are doing and wants to contribute $100 every year.

That's it for now.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Tweaked Mission

We've changed our mission. It now reads: The mission of Girls Education International is to expand and promote educational opportunities for women and girls around the world. We do this by working in close collaboration with local communities to promote ownership that will ensure that the education programs respect local culture and values and will be sustained over the long term.

Heidi Wirtz Slide Show Tour Photos

See next post below for more information on show.

Heidi Wirtz Slide Show Tour Benefit for Girls Education International

Western States, Fall/07

Heidi Wirtz Fundraising Slide Show Tour Fall/07

Big Wall First Ascents in the Islamic World

Join, The North Face athlete, Heidi Wirtz as she takes you on a journey of exploration and adventure into the Islamic World of North Africa, Southern Asia and the Middle East. Wirtz will be presenting a fundraising slide show tour at several Western US universities and climbing shops this fall/07. The show includes a collage of beautiful pictures, video, music and stories that
will bring you from the ruins of Petra to the sheer cliffs of some the world's most remote and scenic areas. The North Face, La Sportiva, Black Diamond, Adventure Medical, Julbo, Clif bar and more will sponsor the shows. There will be a live auction as well as raffle at each event, with all proceeds going to Girls Education International (, a non-profit that Wirtz recently co-founded with journalist Lizzy Scully. The aim of GEI is to bring education to young women in underserved areas of the world, specifically Asia.

Slide show tour 07 Dates:

Sept 6th: Kick off at Neptune/Boulder, Colorado

Sept 12th or 17th (not confirmed): The Front/SLC, Utah

Sept 25th: Fort Lewis College/Durango, CO

Oct 2nd: Western State/Gunnison, CO

October 9th: Colorado Mountain College/Glenwood, CO

November 8th: Idaho State/Pocatello, ID

Heidi Wirtz
Professional Climber
The North Face, Black Diamond, La Sportiva
2850 Darley
Ave Boulder, CO 80305
mobile# 303-908-7795

For more information on Girls Education International or to donate, please visit and also Heidi's Mountain Fund fundraising site:

Saturday, July 21, 2007

More summarizing of meeting

We're also rewording a variety of things, including our mission. We had a long discussion about how some of our text was contradictory regarding the idea that GEI does not want to impart Western values on others as we do our work.

We also feel like we need to define our target groups more clearly. I think we've settled on mountainous regions of the world, and we want to serve both girls and women, with the idea that educating women is often necessary in order to educate the children.

GEI's First Major Meeting, July 5, 2007

GEI just had its first major meeting last week at The Spot Gym. Volunteers Meca Delgado, Elizabeth O'Neill, Danielle Hoffman, Justin Vorhees, and Sierra Postle (phone conferenced in) met to discuss the tasks that need to be done and to discuss the future of GEI. This is a summary of our meeting as written up by Elizabeth O'Neill.

As promised (albeit awfully late), below is the list of 'action items' and responsibilities resulting from our meeting. Please feel free to review and provide comments if there are omissions or changes. We didn't define specific deadlines for these tasks, but my general sense was that we wanted to make significant progress on all of the items below by our next meeting in mid-September.

Build a donor database:
--Meca to send Justin example database
--Justin to create template and circulate to group (Elizabeth is looking also for examples, but no luck yet)
--Danielle to research foundations
--Elizabeth to research bilateral/multilateral agencies
--Heidi to research commercial/for profit/industry
--Everyone with info to plug it into donor database template

Get GEI signed up with Global Giving: Sierra(?)

Develop an online space (e.g., a "portal") where we can store info, work on draft documents, etc.: Lizzy

Consolidate research information and post syntheses, original articles, book titles, cool powerpoint on education in Pakistan, etc. to portal: Danielle
--Assist Heidi with research on: 1) key ingredients of successful education projects; 2) government issues of importance to Khane project; Greg Mortensen's work: NEED VOLUNTEERS???

Prepare for OR in August (for general meetings with potential donors) and February (for "launch" of GEI and to make serious pitches to potential donors?):
--Heidi to take lead of 'working group'
--Roxanna hopefully to assist with business cards (for August) and brochure (for February)
--Sierra (?) and Danielle to support at OR

Continue to refine strategy document and business plan: Meca, Lizzy, Elizabeth to consult
--draft to group two weeks from meeting date, so toward end of this week or early next week
--including making edits to mission, vision, and goals suggested by group; defining targets of work more clearly (e.g., girls vs. women? which countries? which geographies?)

Review Khane project plan and send comments to Heidi: Elizabeth, WHO ELSE??

Next meeting to be scheduled between September 4th and September 12th: Elizabeth to assist Lizzy/Heidi with agenda development and facilitation

Read "Three Cups of Tea" (if you haven't already): Everyone :)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Jeffrey Rush of Mesa, AZ, wins Montbell Sleeping bag

Congrats to Jeffrey Rush of Mesa, AZ, for winning the Montbell Sleeping bag!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Offer of Help from Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director

On another positive note, we received correspondence from Muhammad Hassan, the Director at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, notifying us that he is interested in working with GEI in a variety of ways, including providing some funding for the girls' school as well as offering guidance. This is invaluable for GEI, as we still do not know exactly how much all the supplies will cost, etc.
To read more about their nonprofit, please visit their website:

Andrew's on his way

Andrew Council, guide for the Colorado Mountain School, will be leaving for Pakistan tomorrow morning on a personal trip to teach mountaineering skills to Baltistani. On his way he will be stopping over at the village Khane to talk with our contact over there. The plan is that he will get as much information as possible from Abbas. He is basically gathering the information that GEI needs to know to implement the girls' school renovation plan. Some of the things we need to find out include: how many students at the girls' school, what they need exactly, and the cost and type of repairs that need to be done for the school to function better.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Update on the progress of GEI

It's been a long time since I posted. I've been really busy doing the PR/marketing for the HERA Climb For Life event in Boulder, Colorado, this summer (to read more, go to the HERA Foundation website:

Anyway, here's the scoop on GEI. I've been working with this fellow named Andrew Council, a climbing guide for the Colorado Mountain School. He's heading over to Pakistan in the next few weeks. Plus, I've talked with our main contact over there, Abbas, this morning in fact. He's been snowed in most of the winter, and so we haven't had a chance to touch base. Basically, Andrew will be heading over to Khane for a day to talk with Abbas on his way to Khande, where he will train mountain guides. Andrew will be bringing a list of questions over (how many girls in the school, what exactly needs to be renovated, how long it might take Abbas to find a teacher, etc). Abbas will put together a document that answers all these questions and also details the most pressing needs for the school. He will then send this information back to me either via Andrew or via email.

The GEI team will put together a long term plan of attack to completely renovate the girls' school. We will use this plan to apply for grants from the American Alpine Club and other places. At the same time, we will be planning a slide show tour for Heidi, during which she will travel around the country raising fund and awareness for Girls Education International.

Additionally, Fabrizio Zangrelli will be going to Pakistan summer 2007 to climb K2. On his way out, he and maybe Heidi (if we can afford to send her to Pakistan) will work with Abbas in Khane to implement the first phases of the Khane plan. This year it might just be repairing and white washing the school and hiring a new teacher. We currently have about $1600 in the bank account, which should cover basic repairs and a teacher for 6 months. After Heidi's fundraiser tour, we should have enough money to pay for the teacher for another few years.

We believe that the most pressing need at this time for the school is to hire a qualified teacher. We hope to get new desks, school supplies, a privacy/protection fence around the perimeter, a larger garden, and scholarships in place over the next five years.

In regards to the raffle for the Montbell Sleeping bag. We have about 125 people who have donated and entered the raffle. We hope to get at least 75 more people to donate. Please donate at Thanks!

One more thing: Heidi has decided to be the head of the Board of Directors. We have another few people who have expressed interest in being on the board. We are looking for motivated people who are interested in raising money and awareness for educating girls abroad.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

We're Making Progress

Well, we've made more progress lately now that Heidi is back from her many trips. Unfortunately she leaves in a few days for Jordon, and will be gone for five weeks. However, we nailed down some plans, including:

1. Heidi will likely be the head/chief of the board of directors, and I will be the executive director for the organization and will not serve on the board.
2. For the timebeing (or possibly for the longterm) we will be working with The Mountain Fund. We now have nonprofit status through them.
3. Elizabeth O'Neill will be assisting with grant writing and may also be on the board of directors.
4. Justin Voorhees continues to be a great asset and is opening our nonprofit bank account sometime in the next few days. He's also taking care of all fiscal/budget stuff and has been working with The Mountain Fund to make our relationship official.

We are currently looking for more board members. If you are interested, please contact me at

Also, the donations are coming in. We've just put a press release on, and since then have received 5 additional donations. Thanks!

Another Thank You

Wow, as the days progress, I find myself thanking more and more people for helping out in various ways. This thank you slipped through the cracks. Three of the photos we used on the official website were donated by David Lacure. The photos were taken in Mexico, October 2004, as part of a week-long mission trip.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Oops, I was just notified that I haven't put a link to on the site yet. I'll work on that today. In the meantime, just click on anywhere that it appears on the blog. :)

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Thank You Montbell, Trango, Petzl, CAMP, Statik, etc...

Thank you to all the wonderful folks who made this event and this nonprofit possible!!! Without the longterm support of a number of businesses in the industry, I would not have been able to go on expeditions around the world. Without the experiences I had on these expeditions, I would not have founded Girls Education International.

First I want to thank my longterm friends and sponsors:
Scott Guenther and all the great folks at Montbell America, for providing me both with all the equipment I needed for my recent trip to Pakistan, and also for donating the fantastic Super Stretch Down Hugger Sleeping bag for the raffle (click here for more details on how to win the bag!).

Thanks also to Malcolm Daly and Great Trango Holdings for supplying me with the cams, light biners, harness, and all the other soft and hard goods I needed to climb big walls in Pakistan and around the Front Range. Mal, you rock!

Thanks very much to the Petzl, especially John and Chuck (the hottest grandpa I've ever met). These fellows are incredibly supportive of women in climbing, and regularly purchased ads for She Sends when I ran that magazine, and they also gave me some key items that I needed for my trip to Pakistan this past summer.

Thanks very much also to Jesse at CAMP for doing the Lumpy link-up with me before I left and for providing me with ice axes and plenty of super rad, light biners.

Thanks also to Statik Mountain Products for getting me some cool clothes to kick back in.

Thanks to Heidi's sponsors as well:
The North Face
The folks at Black Diamond (who have been great supporters of women climbers through their efforts with the HERA Foundation and also with She Sends).
Clif Bar
Wigwam Socks
Jetboil Stoves

Thanks, Kelly Cordes, for packing the house.

This is Kelly Cordes on the summit of Denali. Thanks very much, Mr. Disaster Style, for doing the slide show for GEI. You were the primary reason we had a packed house! You rock.

Coming Soon and things we still need...

Heidi and I are now beginning to organize the actual distribution of the funds that we earned at the first GEI fundraiser. Fabrizio Zangrelli, a longtime climber and all-around awesome human being, is going to implement some of the GEI plans in Pakistan this next summer. We are applying for the Zach Martin Breaking Barriers grant with the idea that Fabrizio will be able to stay in the Village Khane for a few weeks to buy and transport supplies to the village, with our local contact over there, Ghulam Abbas, and also to document anything that gets done over there.

We are also working on creating a newsletter and a series of press releases about GEI. We now have a few more volunteers on board helping out. Elizabeth O'Neill will be helping out with grant writing and the structuring of the nonprofit; Nicole Gordon will be doing some media work, including writing the newsletter and some press releases; Justin Voorhees is spearheading the fiscal/budget part of the whole nonprofit (thank gawd, since that is not my forte); Roxann Brock will be maintaining the website; and Heidi's considering being the head of the board of directors.

We are still in need of some additional board members, and we are looking for some other people to help out with the nitty gritty work of GEI as well, including another media person to help promote GEI, another grant writer, and some folks to help out with organizing fundraisers and other events. As things progress we will probably need additional volunteers. I'll post our needs as they arise.

Thanks also to all the people/businesses who donated products for the event:

The Estes Park Mountain Shop, Rob the owner, & all the EPMS employees for providing the venue for the event and the $25 gift certificate to the shop, and the three-month membership to the gym. Thanks also to Zach for organizing a good part of the event.
The Estes Park Brewery for providing us with the keg and a half of beer that was consumed!
GlassWorks, Estes, for the handblown pitcher (that I was just dying to have!)
The Wild Basin Lodge, Allenspark, for the $200 gift certificate
Statik Mountain Products for the two $50 gift certificates
The Spot Gym, Boulder, for the five-card punch pass
Chris Wall, Boulder, for the two training sessions
Seth Watson, Boulder, for the massage
Rambo’s Liquor Store, Estes, for the nice bottle of wine
The Stone Cup Coffee Shop, Lyons, for the three gift certificates
Tom at Longs Peak Coffee and Paper Shop, Estes, for the posters of Longs Peak and other things
Jane & Polartec, Estes, for all the great fleece jackets and vests
Komito Boots, Estes, for the Longs Peak poster
Rock & Ice magazine for the two subscriptions
Prana for the wonderful items of clothing
Patagonia for the cool fleece
Katy’s Hand Jam for the numerous containers of awsome hand salve
Pangea Organics for the wonderful, organic soap products

Thanks Frank James for the fine music!

I'd like to thank Frank James, the wonderful musician who entertained the audience at the GEI fundraiser. Frank, you were fabulous!

Frank's Bio:
“When somebody’s doing it just right, a 12 string sounds like two guitars, a bass, three mandolins, a hammered dulcimer and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir," says Frank James, ragtime and jazz guitarist. "Considering I’ve been working on it for a little over 4- years, I feel like I’m starting to get close.” Frank plays Leadbelly and Blind Willie McTell masterpieces, exciting instrumentals, and a load of old and new blues, rags, and ballads. “Basically I’ll do anything I think is great. I don’t care if it’s a cowboy song from the 1890’s or a Tom Waits song from the 1980’s. As long as it speaks to me, I assume other people will hear it too.” Since the late 1960s, Frank has played every sort of venue from coffee houses to concert stages to rock ‘n roll bars.

Chatting with volunteers and visitors.

The Raffle

Mary Marmorstone and Ryan Rickard host the raffle. We had planned to do a live auction and raffle, thinking that the live auction would bring in more money. During my brief presentation on Girls Education International, I announced that we had already made close to $900, and that if we could just clear $1,000 we'd raffle everything off. During the beer break, folks dropped $10s and $20s in the jug, bringing the total up to $1,100.

More Photos

Spruce, me, and Douglas Snively (local legend) waiting for Kelly's show.

Photos from the Fund Raiser

It was so packed people were hanging over the climbing wall. I'm so pleased that folks were so excited. Kelly's show was dynamic and funny, as well as inspiring.

Monday, February 12, 2007

We made $1,100 at our first event!!!

We made $1,100 at last night's event. It went very smoothly. Kelly's show was fantastic, engaging, and funny; Frank James played an hour and 15 minute set that was clearly enjoyed by all; and the Estes Park Brewery supplied us with a keg and a half (and, yes, it was all gone by the end of the night). It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening. I'll write a bit more about it in the next few days, including big phat thank yous to all the sponsors, volunteers, and performers.

This week Heidi and I will meet with some other folks who have just joined the effort. We are planning to discuss what to do with the first batch of $ (possibly paying for the first qualified teacher for the Khane Girls' school!).

I'll keep everyone posted. Thanks again for all the online donations and the support!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

PayPal IS UP!

PayPal is up! Check it out, and donate!!!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Paypal button not up yet

A number of folks have notified me that the Paypal link on the website is not up yet. It should be up later today or tomorrow, Inshallah. To all those people who already donated. Thanks!
I look forward to seeing you all at the event on Sunday!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Website is Up!

The website is finally up. The URL is There are a few typos and a few things that need to be tweaked and added. However, it's looking really great. Thanks so much to Calvin Madison and Craig Wilson, two Longmont residents, for getting the site up and running!

And thanks to all the great folks who donated photos for use on the site (some of which aren't up yet), including Christine Blackmon and Dougald MacDonald, Johnny Copp, and Chris Van Leuven. Thanks also to Matt Samet for editing the content.

Also thanks to all the generous people and businesses who are sponsoring the event. The names of the companies are listed in the press release.

Press Release for Cordes Slide Show

Estes Park, CO. Nonprofit Girls Education International to hold first fund raising event with slide show by alpinist Kelly Cordes at the Estes Park Mountain Shop, Sunday, February 11, 2007. Free beer flows at 6p.m.; the events start at 7-9p.m. Arrive early; capacity limited. Proceeds to benefit Khane Village Girls’ School in Pakistan.

Estes Park local Kelly Cordes has established major new alpine routes around the world, always in lightweight style and ranging from ice and mixed lines in the Alaska Range and Peru’s Cordillera Blanca to one of the biggest rock climbs in history, on Great Trango Tower in Pakistan’s Karakoram Mountains. This summer, he had an “excellent failure” on Shingu Charpa, in Pakistan, climbing 45 pitches only to come up short of the summit. In early January, on his first trip to Patagonia, he made a bold new link-up on Cerro Torre, one of the world's most difficult technical peaks.

“Kelly’s one of America’s premier alpinists,” says GEI founder Lizzy Scully. “It’s very exciting that he’s agreed to promote GEI’s first major event. I expect standing room only.”

“I think organizations such as these are really important, and I feel strongly about this particular event because of the powerful experiences I've had in Pakistan,” Cordes added. “By doing this presentation, I feel like I can actually give back to the local communities that have been so warm and open to me during my visits there.”

In addition to Cordes’ show, there will be a short slide presentation on the founding of GEI and its projects; stand-up comic Ryan Rickard will announce the bids for a live auction during intermission and a raffle at the end of the event; and Frank James will play the blues throughout. This two-hour event is free, although there is a suggested a $5 donation/raffle ticket purchase that will support Girls Education International. The first 200 people to donate to GEI at the event and online at will be entered into a raffle to win a $300 Montbell Super Stretch Down sleeping bag.

Products to be auctioned or raffled off have been donated by outdoor companies such as Patagonia, Great Trango Holdings, Prana, Statik Mountain, Rock & Ice magazine, and Montbell. Other items include two sessions with personal trainer Chris Wall, a $200 gift certificate to the Wild Basin Lodge, a $150 hand-made glass pitcher from Glassworks of Estes Park, nature photographs by Dick Orleans, miscellaneous gifts from the Longspeak Paper and Coffee Shop, and gift certificates to the Stone Cup CafĂ© and Oscar Blues in Lyons, Nepal’s Restaurant, the Estes Park Mountain Shop, and Rambo’s Liquor Store in Estes, and the Spot Gym in Boulder. Additional items to be announced.

Girls Education International, a nonprofit founded by journalist Lizzy Scully and North Face athlete Heidi Wirtz, supports the education of disadvantaged girls who otherwise would not learn to read, write, or take charge of their own health. The proceeds from this event will go toward the $500 IRS application for 501(c)3 status and toward the Khane Village Girls’ School Project.

For more information on this event or on GEI and its projects, please contact Lizzy Scully at or call 703-887-9755. Additional information on the fundraiser and GEI can be found at: and

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Change of Slideshow Date & Show Kelly Cordes Presents Climbs in Patagonia/Pakistan

We're changing the date of the slide show to Sunday, February 11, at 6:30 at the Estes Park Mountain Shop. And instead of me presenting a show on climbing in Pakistan, Kelly Cordes will be presenting his slides on his recent monumental ascent in Patagonia as well as a few slides on climbing in Pakistan. I'll be focusing on the main reason we're having this slide show--Girls Education International.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Update on the Slideshow (Now February 11)

I spent the last few days getting products to raffle for the slide show. So far I've got products from Montbell, Patagonia, Trango, Rock & Ice magazine, Statik Mountain, the Estes Park Mountain Shop (where the slide show is being held), as well as some local places, including Glassworks (they donated a gorgeous $150 pitcher), some nature photographs from Dick Orleans, soap products from Pangea Organics, wine from Rambo's Liquor Store, a gift certificate to Nepals (a Nepali restaurant in Estes Park), a book and posters of Longs Peak from the Longs Peak Coffee Shop and Paper Store, a gift certificate from the Wild Basin Lodge (in Allenspark, CO), and other stuff from a few other places in town. We're also planning on having beer from the Estes Park Brewery, which will be served starting at 6:30, and we've got a professional musician playing jazz and ragtime.
I'm also working on getting a good friend of mine who was in Pakistan this summer to make a guest appearance with some of his slides. We'll see if I can convince him.

Girls' School in the Village Khane, Baltistan, Pakistan

As I wrote in the previous post, since the website isn't up yet, I'm going to include a few posts that detail more about the GEI projects that we are currently working on.

Heidi and I went on a climbing expedition to Pakistan in 2006. We spent 10 days in the village Khane in the Hushe Valley. We spent a significant amount of time with the villagers, visiting the girls’ and boys’ schools in the village and discovering that the girls’ school was in deplorable condition.

The small building was in general disrepair and is about half the sizes of the boy’s school, despite the fact that there are equal numbers of girls in the village. Surrounding the boys’ school is a concrete wall with glass shards on top that keep vandals out. The girls’ school has no such wall, and subsequently villagers frequently hop the fence to go to the bathroom in the schoolyard. Heidi and I found piles of feces littered around the yard. The boys’ school also has an extensive garden, while the girls’ school has some dilapidated plots with a few scraggly flowers growing.

Although the overall condition of the school building was extremely poor, the school supplies were worse off. All books were ripped and stained and had obviously been used over and over again for years. Some of the pages were so ruined that girls had to share materials. Additionally, many of the poorer students would not have pencils or paper were it not for the generosity of some of the “wealthier” villagers. Finally, according to the villagers, the government won’t pay for a teacher for the girls’ school and subsequently the village pays a paltry sum to one poorly educated teenager who works with the girls. “She is like a baby sitter,” said one village mother, Zulie.

After being raised in a society that provides free education and supplies to all children, Heidi and I were shocked at the lack of qualified staff and materials for the girls in the village. It’s difficult to describe the glaring differences between what Americans have access to versus what the children in the Northern Areas of Pakistan have access to. Only in early 2006 did Khane get electricity; most homes don’t have furniture; most don’t have ovens or stoves, and the women cook over open fires, utilizing yak dung for fuel; few homes have plumbing; running water has only recently been introduced to the village; and, of course, few villages have access to medical services. The children have no playgrounds to speak of, no access to computers, and no access to books other than their outdated and ruined schoolbooks. They don’t even have toys! The poorest child in America has stuffed animals, games, and other things to play with, while these Pakistanis have nothing except a few marbles and balls.

On the other hand, the children in Khane have something that American children often don’t have. They have a tight-knit community, where the children all watch out for each other. When one baby cries, she is passed around from child to child; girls as young as five will carry around a one-year-old and rock her until she stops crying. And, best of all, these children are generally happy; they smile often and the sounds of their laughter and chattering can be heard constantly throughout the day.

More Info on GEI

Well, since the website isn't up yet, I'm going to include a few posts that detail more about the GEI projects that we are currently working on. The first is educating two Nepali girls.

Educating Nisa and Sonam Lama, two Nepali sisters.
Heidi and I went on an expedition to India in 2004. We befriended our cook, Jamling Lama, who has two daughters: 10-year-old Nisa and 9-year-old Sonam. The girls lived in a remote village in Nepal that had no schools. Likely, they would have been married off at a young age and never received an education, and so I offered to pay for a mid-range school in Kathmandu. Now Jamling, Nisa, and Sonam, and Jamling’s sister all live in a one-bedroom apartment in Kathmandu. Nisa and Sonam attend school. In 2003 and 2004 I paid for the girls; in 2005, Heidi and I organized a fundraiser that paid the $200 fee for the school; and in 2006, my father, John Scully, and Diana Laughlin helped me pay the $200 fee. I'd like to pay for the children all the way through college, which will require more funding that what I will be able to provide. Incorporating this project into GEI will hopefully ensure that these girls get that opportunity.

The photos are of 9-year-old Sonam, and Heidi with Sonam, Nisa, and their father, Jamling, and Jamling's sister (I'm sorry I don't know her name). They are in their one-room apartment in Kathmandu.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Article on Helping African Children

This is a really nice article about how superstars, specifically India Arie, help children around the world. Arie is a UNICEF ambassador. She travels around Africa meeting children, raises awareness by talking about and writing songs on the subject, and she donates money. In the articles she says, “The children were really the most profound part of my trip. There were so many. When I came back I would close my eyes and all I could see were the children looking at me.”

Thursday, January 04, 2007

JPEG of the Home Page!

For folks who are following our progress, here is the layout for the home page, minus the photographs I am looking for.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


Finally, the home page for the website is designed. I still need a few new photos of young girls to add to the mix, preferably not photos of Pakistani girls, as I have plenty of those already. I'll put a notice up as soon as the website is activated. We still have a bit of work to do on it, but we're finally making progress.