Wednesday, January 20, 2010

"Three Cups of Tea" - The Difference One Man Makes in a Country Not His Own

It is not often I feel compelled to write about something that is a little off-topic on this blog, but I have just finished reading "Three Cups of Tea" and have to write about it.

Though not related at all to the Netherlands, there is a "living and falling in love with a country not your own" theme that runs through this book so that is where I will begin.

Greg Mortenson is an American who stumbled across a remote village called Korphe in Pakistan after a failed attempt to climb K2, a climb he embarked on to honour the memory of his sister who died from an epileptic seizure. In the village, recovering from his injuries sustained during the climb, he came across a group of children sitting outside using sticks to draw in the dirt - all eager to study despite the absence of a physical school and a teacher for the most part.

He fell in love with the region, the people and the culture and felt compelled to promise to build the village a school. Before the materials for the school could be transported to Korphe, a bridge had to be built. When the school was finally completed, a project owned by the local community, it was just the start for Greg Mortenson. One school led to another..... it really is an inspiring humanitarian story about what you can achieve in a country that is not your home.

Greg Mortenson went on to dedicate his life to giving the gift of education to the poorer communities of Pakistan, and subsequently Afghanistan. His focus is on educating girls, and his premise is that peace can be promoted in these regions through education.

As you would imagine, it has not been plain sailing. During his campaign for peace he has been kidnapped by the Taliban, caught in firefight in Afghanistan, been the subject of a fatwah or two and travelled through war torn villages and towns.

If you have not read Three Cups of Tea, then it is definitely worth a read. It is also due to be translated into Dutch so after you have read the book in your mother tongue you could buy the Dutch version and practice your Dutch too!

For further information please visit:
Central Asia Institute website
Pennies for Peace website
Stones into Schools website

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