July 31, 2008

Three Cups of Tea

I have just finished reading a most inspiring book: Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace Once School at a Time, by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.

In 1993 a mountaineer named Greg Mortenson drifted into an impoverished Pakistan village in the Karakoram mountains after a failed attempt to climb K2. Moved by the inhabitants' kindness, he promised to return and build a school Three Cups of Tea is the story of that promise and its extraordinary outcome.

Those who appreciate the mission of Heifer Project International and Habitat for Humanity will appreciate the mission that began in Pakistan and continues in Afghanistan among the small, rural villages. Those who have believed there is an alternative way to win the war against terror which began in Afghanistan following 9/11 will appreciate the insight that the victory will never be won without providing education for the children. Those who believe that not all Muslims seek a violent destruction of Americans, will appreciate the story of ordinary human beings from different cultures and religions who work together in unity. Those who ask the question, "But what can one person do to make a difference?" need to read the story of the vision that began with Greg Mortenson.

In Chapter 22 titled, "The Enemy Is Ignorance," an opening paragraph is quoted by an April 6, 2003 cover story in Parade magazine by Kevin Fedarko:

As the U.S. confronts Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq,

Greg Mortenson, 45, is quietly waging his own campaign against Islamic

fundamentalists, who often recruit members

through religious schools called madrassas. Mortenson's approach

hinges on a simple idea: that by building secular

schools and helping to promote education - particularly for girls - in the

world's most volatile war zone, support for the

Taliban and other extremist sects eventually will dry up.

The books title comes from the hospitality shown to an American and the village chief who said to him, Here, we drink three cups of tea to do business; the first you are a stranger, the second you become a friend, and the third, you join our family, and for our family we are prepared to do anything - even die."

Additional information is available at: http://www.threecupsoftea.com/ and http://www.ikat.org/

Read book review in Christian Century by Richard A. Kauffman