Monday, June 16, 2008


Greg Mortenson was a mountaineer. When he attempted to summit K2 in Pakistan, his failure turned into a much greater summit.

Greg's failure on K2 led him to the small village of Korphe where he witnessed children doing their school lessons outside in the cold unsupervised. The village couldn't afford a sheltered building or a full-time teacher. When the teacher wasn't present, the students practiced their lessons by drawing them in the dirt with sticks. This scene was the catalyst for Greg's life work. He set out on a mission to raise enough money - $12,000 - to build a school for this village. And then one school turned into a bridge, a school, a women's center...and then the projects started to spread to other Pakistani villages and ultimately to Afghanistan.

What this man accomplished - is still accomplishing - and his vision are absolutely incredible. He is by all definitions a true hero. He did not set out to teach Pakistani children (especially girls) to think like American children, but rather he set out to provide them with a means to get a well-rounded education, to have a chance in life. He respected their beliefs and accepted who they were as a people. Because of that, the people rallied around him and provided the labor, the support, the safety that was necessary to improve their ways of life without destroying their beliefs. Mortenson himself has lived in virtual poverty, has been kidnapped, and has spent many months each year away from his own family to accomplish this goal.

Mortenson had - still has - a view of the Middle East that most Americans never see. And it is something we all need to see, so we aren't making the same mistakes we've made in the past. Mortenson believes that the kind of education he is helping these people to earn is what will be the strongest force against terrorism. I agree - whole-heartedly.

If you have not read this book, find a copy: order if from your bookstore, check it out from the library, borrow it from a friend. You will not regret it. I will admit that the writer, David Oliver Relin, is a bit on the verbose side. The first half of the book contains a lot of unnecessary fluff, but the second half tightens up considerably. Ignore the this book...hear Mortenson's message. You don't need to donate to the cause, just hear his message and become educated yourself! It will be our country's strongest defense against terrorism!


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