Three Cups of Tea tells the inspiring story of Greg Mortenson’s promise to build a school, a promise he struggled and fumbled and sacrificed to make come true. One promise turned into a mission, one school turned into a foundation; the Central Asia Institute. The institute has now built around 55 schools, and set in motion a myriad of locally run projects to improve water supply and provide tools or premises for small businesses.
Along the way Mortenson has met leaders in one of the world’s most isolated areas, met with philanthropists and senators in America, met heroes of the climbing world, and taken tea with the Taliban. He’s had his share of scary moments including being kidnapped, but has remained dedicated to delivering schools. He sees that education, particularly the education of girls, is the only way towards long term success of the region and ultimately to peace. He finds support from surprising sources – including a Shariat – an Islamic court.
He was in Pakistan at the moment of 9/11, and knew the fears of the locals who referred to “the village of New York being bombed”. On the 14 September he attended the inauguration of another school, there Syed Abbas gave a moving speech recognising the enormous value of education and went on to say;
I request America to look into our hearts, and see that the great majority of us are not terrorists, but good and simple people.
Mortenson sees and understands the forces of radicalisation that are creating a grave danger in this region. He sees the only possible long term defense as education, it enables the children to envision a new future for themselves and build a new economic reality. Graduates of his first school have already gone on to higher learning.
While the writing (it was co-written by David Oliver Relin) is a little overblown the tale of “Dr Greg” comes shining through, there were moments of sadness, laughter and moments that took my breath away. It’s certainly inspiring.
To do a good deed with your purchase buy the book through the dedicated website Three Cups of Tea. The first thing I did after I’d read this book was go to Greg Mortenson’s foundation, the Central Asia Institute, and donated enough to support a teacher for at least a year. 10 euro supports a student at school for a year, 250 or so supports a teachers, the cost of a school is around 10,000 euro. I challenge all readers of the book to do the same – make a donation.