Monday, June 9, 2008

Three Cups of Tea

I have just finished reading this book, and am motivated to write a review of it.
Greg Mortenson was a missionary kid, whose Lutheran parents raised him in Tanzania. As a young man, he took to climbing mountains. When an attempt to climb K2 failed, he found himself wandering northern Pakistan, lost and convinced he didn't have the strength to get back to safety. He was found and taken to a small village. During his time there, he noticed schoolchildren doing their work without a teacher, outside, in the elements. The village did not have the $1 a day it took to pay a full-time teacher, and the Pakistani government did not supply one to this little village in the far northern area of the country. Impressed by the hospitality he was offered, he promised to return and build a school for the village. Working hard, saving, and, eventually, finding a sponsor, he was finally able to do so. But the story doesn't end there.
Mortenson's life work has been building schools in, first, northern Pakistan, and, then, northern Afghanistan. To date, 64 schools have been built. Using both Western dollars and local donations of labor and supplies, these schools are fully or partially supported by the communities they serve. There are currently 25,000 students in these schools, 14,300 of them girls. Mortenson's Central Asian Institute "supports community-based education programs, especially for girls."
Taking its support for education for girls a little further, CAI supports 14 women's vocational centers and other projects, including maternal health care education, potable water projects, cataract surgeries, and, well, you can learn more here.
The book draws on Mortenson's remembrances, the experiences of the co-author, and interviews with supporters--and detractors--of Mortenson. It opened a part of my brain to another culture. It also gave me some insight into our current Middle East involvements; insight I maybe didn't want, but which clarifies some questions I've had along the way.
To learn more about the book, about Greg Mortenson, and about the Central Asia Institute, visit the Three Cups of Tea website. If you like what you read, and want to read more, buy the book from the website. A small portion of your purchase will benefit the CAI.

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