By Diana Stewart from the June 2010 Edition
In late 1993 Greg Mortensen staggered into a remote village in northern Pakistan lost, exhausted, and sadly disappointed. He had failed to climb the Himalayan peak K2 largely because he and a friend had gone to the rescue of another injured climber. The village of Korphe welcomed him and nursed him back to health with infinite kindness and
hospitality from their own meagre resources. Mortensen asked to see the village school and was amazed that 78 boys and 4 girls had a teacher 3 days a week (at a dollar a day) and studied by themselves on the other days in the freezing open air. He had wanted to do something for the village – now he promised to return and build them a school.
Greg returned to Pakistan buying building materials in Rawalpindi before driving into the mountains. Disappointment awaited him – the Head Man of the village pointed out the obvious – a bridge across the Indus gorge would be needed to transport the materials! Eventually the donor put forward another $10,000 for this and three years after his first arrival Greg kept his promise.
His donor, now convinced of his dedication and competence set up the Central Asia Institute and made Greg the director. Around fifty schools were built over the next five summers but dark clouds were gathering across the nearby border with Afghanistan.
After 9/11 Greg chose to stay in Pakistan! He built schools for Afghani refugees who had fled the Taliban, investigated Waziristan being held prisoner for four days by the fiercest of tribesmen. Wild horsemen from N.E. Afghanistan rode for six days to ask for his help. Moderate, sane Muslims – including these wild tribesmen – knew that a balanced education was the key to peace. The million dollars Greg Mortensen now had to spend was a pittance compared to the oil money from Saudi Arabia funding “Madras’s” in the poorest areas of Pakistan. These were the Koran based, boys only, training grounds for bigoted fighters. Top students transferred to Saudi Arabia for ten years further indoctrination and then returned to Pakistan to take four wives and breed up a new generation of terrorists! Fundamentalist Islam is thinking 20, 40 or 60 years ahead.
This book tells an incredible story and tells it well. Greg’s aim is to give all girls the chance of at least a fifth grade education. This transforms families, fights poverty and educates a new generation. We hear how he met a perfect wife, raised two children and another million dollars. Visit his website at www.threecupsoftea.com to see what mountains this former mountaineer is still moving and information about the sequel to this best seller. I have two copies of this book to lend to anyone in Manzanillo who would like to know Greg’s recipe for peace in the sane Muslim world.
”.#1 New York Times Bestseller
Three Cups of Tea
One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time By Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.