Friday, February 09, 2007

Three Cups of Tea

I never quite got around to writing about this book after I read it and I'm not sure why. I think it had something to do with wanting to write it up properly, but not having the right words to really put it all together in the larger picture of importance.

So tonight I had the honor of hosting Greg Mortenson at my bookstore for an event. We packed in somewhere around 250 people for a marvelous 90 minutes of storytelling and photos that were so rich in beauty and background. Greg was kind, mild-mannered and clearly so passionate in his mission that you know its not a spell: this man and what he is doing is for real. It's hard not to get caught up in it all. It's so important!

This is the general way I summarize the book to customers when they come in and I recommend it:
So this guy, Greg, was raised in Tanzania by parents who built hospitals. He joined the army, went to college, became a nurse. He climbed mountains. After a "failed" attempt to climb K2 he wandered into a small village in the Karakoram mountains in Pakistan (where K2 is located). They essentially nursed him back to health. He "repaid" their debt by returning a few years later and building them a school (for a whopping $12,000 plus a bridge, it's complicated, read the book). 1 kidnapping, 2 fatwahs, 1 permissive decree from the Shariat court of Islamic clerics, 1 tribal shootout, several languages and 13 years later, Greg has facilitated the building of 58 schools. All of them are in rural areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan. For each school that is built in these impoverished communities, that is one community more that will not be sending its young boys off to Islamic Madrassas to learn the militant forms of Islam that lead to terrorism. This doesn't even count the teacher training programs, water projects, assistance within refugee camps and so much more.

Wow, right? That's just the start. The book itself reads like a part adventure, part travel literature, part societal exploration, part memoir in a way that makes you become a believer. But it isn't the book's words or the writing of it that gets your fire going, its the story itself. The story of what one man has done and continues to do with the right combination of strength, resilience, flexibility, respect, resolve and oh so much compassion and understanding of a need: a need that has a ripple effect which is immeasurable. One person CAN make a difference. A massive one, at that.

Take a moment to check out Three Cups of Tea at your local bookstore and your world will be changed. If you aren't able to support your local, independent bookstore then (*gulp*) click on this link to buy from Amazon and they will donate up to 7% of purchases to the Central Asia Institute to help continue the mission of education.

Then go to the website for the organization that makes it all happen: Central Asia Institute and consider making a donation. A pencil costs a penny. School for one child costs $1 month per child. A little goes such a long, long way.

1 comment:

lauruguayaga said...

good job greg !!! i love you book the help a pakistan