Last month my mother recommended that I read Three Cups of Tea, the New York Times bestselling book about Greg Mortenson’s mission to promote peace by building schools for girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
It was a great recommendation indeed! I couldn’t put it down. Greg Mortenson’s story is certainly an amazing one.
Greg was raised in Tanzania near Mt. Kilimanjaro. As an avid rock climber and mountaineer, he set out to climb K2 in 1993, to honor the memory of his younger sister who had passed away from epilepsy. On his way back from K2, he stumbled into a remote mountain village called Korphe.
The rest of Greg’s life has been devoted to building schools for girls in the most rural parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Educated males tend to leave rural communities and find work in urban centers. Educated girls, by contrast, tend to stay in the community, which enriches the overall standard of living.
Three Cups of Tea is extremely well written, and traces Greg’s life from childhood to the present, with vivid details of the difficulties and dangers of building schools in a conflicted region. As I read about Greg’s life being in danger during his kidnapping by Taliban sympathizers, his months on end away from his wife and children, and the constant battle to get support for his mission, it became clear how selfless the man truly is.
What I particularly enjoyed about this book is learning how a mountaineer has dedicated his life to help the local people of the world’s great mountains. Unlike the rest of the well-equipped westerners who pass through the little villages of the Himalayas, the Karakoram, and Ladakh mountain ranges to enjoy the sport of mountaineering, this man opened his eyes and realized that he could improve the lives of these villagers.
Check out this video clip of a portion of Greg Mortsenson’s interview with Bloomberg News.