Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Book Review: Three Cups of Tea

Three Cups of Tea - One Man's Mission to Promote Peace... One School at a Time, photo by elycefeliz, Flickr

Greg Mortenson has done more to combat terrorism than the trillions of dollars the Bush administration has spent on the illegal war in Iraq will ever do. This is a true story of one man's journey and failure to make it to the summit of K2. This event changed Mortenson's life forever.

Mortenson spent 7 weeks in a remote village in Pakistan healing from this attempt. One of the village elder's opened his home and treated Mortenson with kindness and tender loving care.

When Mortenson felt strong enough to return to his home in the United States, he promised this village elder to return and build a school for the children in this impoverished region.

Once back home in Oakland, CA, Mortenson downsized like you wouldn't believe to make this happen. He rented a storage unit before he left for his lifelong dream to make it to the summit of K2. Instead of renting an apartment, he kept everything in storage and slept in his car. He showered in various locations and worked in his field of nursing at night.

During the day he wrote letters to rich people, foundations, journalists, Oprah Winfrey. Tom Brokaw was the only one who responded by sending a check for $100.

Greg Mortenson with children in Pakistan, photo uploaded by benauchc76 on Flickr

A fellow climber heard about the 580 letters Mortenson sent out asking for funding of his school in Pakistan. This climber suggested he write an open letter to a climbing magazine. Did this ever turn out to be the best advice.

An old climber, Dr. Jean Hoerni, who was filthy rich, called Mortenson after reading the open letter in the magazine. Hoerni asked how much he needed for the school. Mortenson told him $12,000. The rich man sent the check and the rest is history.

Mortenson has built several schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. He opened schools for girls. Girls never went to school until he built these schools.

Anyway, this is a great book. It will inspire you to act. We can all do little things to make the world a better place. When Mortenson was trying to raise money for the first school, a group of school children donated jars and jars of pennies. Little things make such a difference.

On a personal note, my brother's first wife worked for the Kiriyama Book Prize. Three Cups of Tea won the prize a few years back. She told me that she met Mortenson and he was the most amazing individual she had ever met in her life. And she has met some pretty amazing writers in her life.

Greg Mortenson with children in Pakistan, photo uploaded by benauchc76 on Flickr

So if you want to make a difference, buy this book. Or check out the link on the left hand side of this post, Central Asia Institute. This is Mortenson's foundation. For my educator friends, maybe tell your students about Mortenson and his schools. Maybe your students will be inspired to help by holding a bake sale, or raising jars of pennies.

One last thing, Mortenson talks about how if we all knew more about the Islamic world and culture of Central Asia, maybe we wouldn't be so full of hate and fear.

I took a few ME history courses in college. I remember one of the 5 pillars of faith in the Koran is the tithe. Every Muslim has to give a percentage of their earnings to charity. Imagine that. Imagine if we all did that. The world would surely be a much better place.
Greg Mortenson and children in Pakistan, photo uploaded by benauchc76 on Flickr


Anonymous said...

the tithe is a jewish law as well - you need to give thenth of the salary and of every food you make to charity.


Mary Cuevas said...

hi john,
thanks for commenting. wouldn't the world be a better place if we all did that?
i am a humanist. even without a religious doctrine, i gave 10 percent of my salary when i was a contracted teacher.

we do not make much for teaching, but, i knew there were many in the world who needed it more than me.