Sometimes, in life, we stumble upon things that move us deeply. Simplicity, kindness, beauty, size. I’ve always liked to look for inspiration and I love feeling, that stir, that comes along with being moved. It makes you want something bigger than yourself and it brings all of your issues and problems into perspective.
Recently, I was fortunate enough to pick up a copy of Greg Mortenson’s Three Cups of Tea at a book club book swap. It has been on my “to-read” list for about four years and I was excited at the chance to mark another book off the list. The subject matter teetered on my areas of interest (the Middle East) and I found the gist of the storyline (building schools for underprivileged children, especially girls, in Pakistan and Afghanistan) intriguing.
I was expecting to enjoy the book, but I was blown away. I’m not sure if I can adequately put into words how I felt about this book.
Mortenson, a mountain climber, winds up in a poor area of Pakistan by accident after a failed climb. This series of seemingly random events transform his life and the lives of villages across Pakistan and Afghanistan. Three Cups of Tea tells the story of his mission to bring education to some of the least privileged people in the world.
His travels take him far from the “civilized” world that we are comfortable in and, toward the conclusion of the book, directly into the heart of the start of the War on Terror. He holds that the solution to the Taliban and other forms of extremism is to provide accessible education. So many children enter strictly religious madrassas that, in some cases, teach the hatred of America and terrorism that bring us extremism and violence. With more of Mortenson’s schools, more children would have the chance to receive an education without indoctrination or dogma.
These schools are not “pro-America” and they do not teach our religion or values. They provide an unbiased, fair education to children that otherwise may not receive it. Mortenson also worked to build bridges (literally), community centers for women, and medical centers to help reduce the alarmingly high numbers of preventable deaths. This is a man on a wonderful mission, and I am moved.
Please, please do not judge this book based on my review – go out and get a copy for yourself!
If you want to help in a more tangible way, visit the book’s web site or purchase the book using this link. Any purchase (of the book or otherwise) from Amazon using the link above gives Mortenson’s organization (CAI – Central Asia Institute) 7% of the proceeds.