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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Two interesting books...

We have been reading Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson.

It is his story of how he began to set up schools in northern Pakistan
in the most remote and inaccessible villages.

The first school project was a promise in return for the saving of his life
by the people of Korphe.

An experienced climber, he had attempted to climb K2,
in memory of his sister who had died of severe epilepsy.
He was forced to abandon the climb before reaching the summit. In coming down
he suffered exposure to the cold and lack of food and became disoriented.
He was found and cared for by the people of Korphe.

While there he felt impelled to return something to the village for saving his life.
He found the children in the village attempting to school themselves by writing in the dirt
in the open air, with a fellow child as teacher.
He asked the women of the village what they most needed.
They told him,
"We don't want our babies to die and we want our children to go to school."
He promised that he would return and help to build a school.

He returned to the U. S. to raise money for this project.
When he returned to Korphe with building materials, he was told by the village leader
that before a school could be built, a bridge had to be constructed across
the river gorge to Korphe to be able to transport the materials to the village.
He returned again to the U.S. to raise more money, and came back.
The bridge was built, and then later the school,
both with the help and knowhow of the people of Korphe.
This promise took three years to fulfill.

The book relates further school building projects.
It gives a very good picture of the lives of the people,
the many different groups of people, the various cultures and beliefs,
as well as a firsthand account of his encounters
with the Taliban, and other extremist groups.

It especially relates how he learned the importance of developing relationships with the
local people and allowing them to guide him in knowing their needs and
the best ways to go about carrying out the projects.

The people have a great interest in education, for girls and boys.
The education of girls is one of the things he considers most important,
in that some may return to the villages to assist
in improvements of maternal and child care.
He considers it the best way to peace and stability in the area.

The sequel to this book Stones into Schools, describes the work done to establish schools in the most remote and inaccessible northeast corridor of Afghanistan.
It is as well a very interesting read from the point of view of the people, history and
conditions of Afghanistan and northern Pakistan.

Louise MacAdam

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