March 22, 2008

"Three Cups of Tea"

One Man's Mission
to Promote Peace...

One School at a Time
by Greg Mortenson
& David Oliver Relin

After a friend heard Greg Mortenson speak at our local library, she contacted me because I'm always on the look out for good books, especially about travel. Now, after reading the book, I wish I could have heard him speak. He is an inspiration.

Book Description:
In 'Three Cups of Tea' Greg Mortenson, and acclaimed journalist David Oliver Relin, recount the unlikely journey that led Mortenson from a failed attempt to climb Pakistan’s K2, the world’s second highest mountain, to successfully building schools in some of the most remote regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan. By replacing guns with pencils, rhetoric with reading, Mortenson combines his unique background with his intimate knowledge of the third-world to fight terrorism with books, not bombs, and successfully bring education and hope to remote villages in central Asia. 'Three Cups of Tea' is at once an unforgettable adventure and the inspiring true story of how one man really is changing the world—one school at a time.

In 1993 Mortenson was descending from his failed attempt to reach the peak of K2. Exhausted and disoriented, he wandered away from his group into the most desolate reaches of northern Pakistan. Alone, without food, water, or shelter he eventually stumbled into an impoverished Pakistani village where he was nursed back to health.

While recovering he observed the village’s 84 children sitting outdoors, scratching their lessons in the dirt with sticks. The village was so poor that it could not afford the $1-a-day salary to hire a teacher. When he left the village, he promised that he would return to build them a school.

From that rash, heartfelt promise grew one of the most incredible humanitarian campaigns of our time: Greg Mortenson’s one-man mission to counteract extremism and terrorism by building schools—especially for girls—throughout the breeding ground of the Taliban.

Mortenson had no reason to believe he could fulfill his promise. In an early effort to raise money he wrote letters to 580 celebrities, businessmen, and other prominent Americans. His only reply was a $100 check from NBC’s Tom Brokaw. Selling everything he owned, he still only raised $2,000. But his luck began to change when a group of elementary school children in River Falls, Wisconsin, donated $623 in pennies, thereby inspiring adults to take his cause more seriously. Twelve years later he’s built fifty-five schools.

Mortenson and award-winning journalist David Oliver Relin have written a spellbinding account of his incredible accomplishments in a region where Americans are feared and hated. In pursuit of his goal, Mortenson has survived an armed kidnapping, fatwas issued by enraged mullahs, repeated death threats, and wrenching separations from his wife and children. Yet his success speaks for itself. This year the schools will educate 24,000 children.

My Book Review:
If I could, I would nominate Greg Mortenson for the Nobel Peace Prize. To me, he has accomplished so much to combat extremism in some of the most dangerous parts of the world—simply by building schools. And all by himself. He shows what one man can do, taking simple steps that can change night to day in the minds of young children in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

This book takes you from the first days of how this 'idea' came to be, to build schools for the poorest of the poor in rural Pakistan. It shows how much he learned from those he was so determined to help. 'Three Cups of Tea' should be on every reading list for organizations that do humanitarian work anywhere in the world, to show how to effectively help people in different cultures. Greg had a few hard learned lessons, but in the end, his greatest teachers were the illiterate men whose children and grandchildren finally had an opportunity at an education with the schools they built together. He shows that when you truly ask the people what they need, those same people will defend the projects with their hearts and lives if need be.

I can't say enough about Greg Mortenson and his work. His story is both heart-wrenching and heart-warming. Read this book, it might just change your life and how you view the current world we live in.

Three Cups of Tea
part of purchase price is donated to CAI

Central Asia Institute
To promote and provide community-based education
and literacy programs,
especially for girls,
in remote mountain regions of Central Asia

Pennies for Peace
Pennies for Peace educates American children
about the world beyond their experience
and shows them that they can make a positive impact
on a global scale, one penny at a time.

Greg Mortenson's blog