Thursday, July 15, 2010

Book Review: Three Cups of Tea

"Educate a boy, and your educate and individual. Educate a girl, and you educate a community. African proverb via Greg Mortensen "

"Once you educate the boys, they tend to leave the villages and go search for work in the cities, but the girls stay home, become leaders in the community, and pass on what they’ve learned. If you really want to change a culture, to empower women, improve basic hygiene and health care, and fight high rates of infant mortality, the answer is to educate girls."

Life.Changing. Mind. Altering.

One day in 1993, high up in the world's most inhospitable mountains, Greg Mortenson wandered lost and alone, broken in body and spirit, after a failed attempt to climb K2, the world's deadliest peak. When the people of an impoverished village in Pakistan's Karakoram Himalaya took him in and nursed him back to health, Mortenson made an impulsive promise: He would return one day and build them a school. Although he was a homeless "climbing bum" living out of his aging Buick in Berkeley, California, Mortenson sold what few possessions he had to launch one of the most remarkable humanitarian campaigns of our time." "Three Cups of Tea traces Mortenson's decade-long odyssey to build schools, especially for girls, throughout the region that gave birth to the Taliban and sanctuary to Al Qaeda.

I loved Three Cups of Tea. It was given to my by Adam who read it first and then implored me to read it. Like the description says, it is about one mans mission to bring education to the remote villages of Pakistan.

There were two parts that absolutely floored me that I would like to share:

1) While building the first school, men came to the village threatening to destroy the school unless the village offered up 12 rams (which are described as the first born child, prized cow, and family pet all rolled in to one). The chief of the village had the boys fetch the rams and deliver them up. The boys were crying (it was the most sacred duty given to the boys to care for the rams) and upset as they gave the rams over. Greg felt devastated. The chief spoke to his people and said "Don't be sad. Long after those rams are dead and eaten this school will stand. Haji Mehdi has food today. Now our children have education forever.

2) The other part that really hit me was that Greg was in Pakistan building schools on September 11th 2001. He was awoken by one of his friends who told him "a village called New York has been bombed. That night they had a ceremony and this man spoke. "We share in the sorrow as people weep and suffer in America today as we inaugurate this school. those who have committed this evil act against the innocent, the women and children, to create thousands of widows and orphans, do not do so in the name of Islam. By the grace of Allah the Almighty, may justice be served upon them. For this tragedy, I humbly ask Mr. George and Dr. Greg for their forgiveness. All of you, my brethren: Protect and embrace these two American brothers in our midst. Let no harm come to them. Share all you have to make their mission successful.

This book is filled with moments like these I have shared. Adam is starting the Pennies for Peace program in his classroom so he will be reading the book and giving his students an opportunity to serve and help contribute to the cause.

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