Sunday, February 21, 2010

Three Cups of Tea


I just read the best book I've read in several years: Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.

I saw this book about two years ago in a book store and thought it looked intriguing. I wrote it down in my phone so I would remember to look for it at the library. But I never followed through. And I missed out on this fantastic book for two years!

It's the story of how one man sacrificed everything to bring education to girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan. An extreme mountain climber, Greg Mortensen got lost on his descent from a failed climb of K2 in Pakistan and ended up in a remote village. The village chief took him in and nursed him back to health. There Greg discovered that there were no schools anywhere in this mountainous area, and he decided to find a way to build a school there. The book goes on to tell his amazing adventures in raising money, building a bridge and then a school, and traveling to other remote and poverty-stricken areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan to bring basic education to the area, especially its girls.

It is such an inspiring tale. First of all, it points out what one person can do with some determination and hard work. He managed to build over 40 schools by the time of publication! But more importantly to me, it highlighted an area of the world I knew only a little about and demonstrated how these poor, simple Muslim people would sacrifice everything they had--the few rupies they had collected over the years, their own labor and health, land, materials, etc.--to give their children, their daughters, a chance at a better life. They're such a misunderstood people. We think of Muslims from that area as extremists and terrorists. But all of the people in the book, including some of the highest Muslim leaders in the country, hoped only for a better life for their children, peace, education, understanding, and condemned the hateful, violent behavior of a few of their countrymen.

I was so inspired by the end of this book that I was, first of all, in tears. And secondly, motivated to do something. The book said that one penny could buy a child a pencil, a dollar a month could pay for a child's education, and a dollar a day was enough to pay a teacher's salary. I spend enough to pay for all three of those things in one meal going out to eat on the weekend. It's amazing to think that that small amount of money could mean a child in Pakistan grows up loving life, believing in him or herself, and understanding the world beyond her village instead of being recruited by terrorist schools.

Anyway, read this book. It is wonderful, touching, and exciting. And it will change how you feel about the people in that part of the world who get such a bad name by a few extremists in their midst.

13 comments:

The Boob Nazi said...

It sounds interesting! It's amazing that not everyone has the opportunity to attend school in this day and age.

just call me jo said...

A friend recommended it to me a year ago and I just keep looking at it at the library or Costco and putting it down. Guess I need to dig in. It must be great. Everyone who reads it loves it. Thanks for reminding me.

Kristina P. said...

This book has been sitting in my car for 2 months, unread. My dad gave it to all of us for Christmas. I really don't read much anymore, so I need to just start reading it when it's slow at work.

Mrs. Organic said...

Mr. O and I head to the bookstore at least twice a month (we are book nerds) and I see this title every time. Maybe now I will pick it up.

rae said...

I liked it, too. The explanation near the end of how the cartels use their cash to set up schools, thus buying loyalty of whole villages really made some things click for me.

MiaKatia said...

I haven't read it yet, but it is on my towering stack of books to read. I worked for several years before going to college, so I was in school when 9/11 happened. I was an Ethnic Studies major. We had an Afghani professor (in the French department) who had been trying to get cross listed to teach in the Ethnic Studies department. After 9/11 there was a need/interest in having an into to the Middle East class (which was sort of ironic because Afghanistan is in SE Asia not the middle east, but not the point). Any way he was a great professor and a great friend. He ended up hiring me to intern for his non profit org Afghans4Tomorrow. It is a broad ranging organization that focuses on schools and women/girls in the region. He was taking a group of engineering student to Afghanistan to work on some new building concepts for the schools and I was invited to go. We had raised tons of supplies and money for the trip then I found out I was pregnant with Zo. The family (his side and mine) put their foot down and refused/pleaded with me not to go. I bowed out of the trip and I sort of still regret it, but of course that is with the knowledge that they all came back in one piece. I have a special place in my heart for Afghanistan and especially the women and girls there. Maybe one day I will make it there.

veronica said...

Thanks for the recommendation. I'm going to read it.

M-Cat said...

SOunds great! Going on my list of books for the vacay

Rachel Sue said...

I read it a few months ago and LOVED it. I have been recommending to everyone.

It was great to meet you yesterday. Where is that house in your header? I totally recognize it.

L. said...

Great and touching blog, Ari! Now, may I borrow that book you borrowed from Jennie? I'm so glad you told everyone about it. Like the others, I've seen and heard praises, but never thought to read it.

If you were still single, I'll lay money you would be off to teach in Afghanistan by Friday, right?

Lia said...

I read this book an age ago.
I'm one of those people who have travelled to these regions in the world and never will you meet such poor people who are so giving.

Much love
Lia
xx

Kenny and Kelli Ray said...

I read this two years ago on recommendation from a cousin. Slow, but really enjoyed it. Really inspiring.

kado! said...

I'll have to pick this one up!