Education and literacy are two topics that are close to my heart, so when my friend passed along a book titled “Three Cups of Tea; One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace….One School at a Time” I knew I had to read it.
Wow. The book chronicles the story of Greg Mortenson, a mountain climber who saw a need in remote Pakistan and decided to make it his life’s work to fulfill that need. He worked (still works) with local villages, local people and often on his own (although not so much now) to bring secular education to those who weren’t being given it: the poor and the girls. He believes, as do many of the villagers, that providing children with this type of education will do more to foster peace and an acceptance of the outside world than anything else.
What I find so moving in this book is the humility that Mortenson began this with and that still runs through the organization he now heads (Central Asia Institute). These schools really come from the local people, he simply provides some much needed cash and impetus to get it happening. He doesn’t bull his way in, telling people what he will do and what they need, he actually listens to and respects the needs of the communities. The key, however, is that he is doing this in a very remote, Muslim part of the world that many people wouldn’t dare to travel to and in fact is considered an extremely dangerous area for westerners.
Mortenson’s ability to respect all people, and to work within the communities of the poorest of the poor, regardless of religion or race, in my view sets him apart from many of the charitable organizations around the world.
On top of that, he worked with a journalist, David Oliver Relin, to tell his story and so the book is very well written and easy to follow. It is one of those books that makes you feel like there are people out there making this world a better place, not just for us but for future generations.