Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Three Cups of Tea

The girls and I are finishing up this wonderful book and have expanded our learning into a little unit study on Afghanistan and Pakistan this last week. The book is the very inspirational story of Greg Mortensen, who was attemping to climb K2 and had to carry down an ill climber before he reached the summit. He got separated from his team and ended up in the little village of Korphe, cold, with no supplies, lost. Haji Ali, the village chief, took him into his home and served him sour yak butter tea - yum!

Haji Ali told Greg with the first cup you are a stranger, with the second a friend, and with the third cup of tea you are family. Greg was saddened to see that the children had no school and met outside trying to scratch words into the dirt in the freezing cold air. The village shared a teacher with another village so there was very little educating going on. Greg promised them he would come back and build them a school.

True to his word, he went home and tried to raise money. He sent out over 5000 letters. At first, only the children at the school where his mother was principal responded with a penny drive, raising something over $600. Eventually he got enough for the school and went back to build it, but ended up having to first build a bridge to the village, as the transportation being used was a rickety box being pulleyed across the river. This was in 1996 and after quite an adventurous story including at one point being kidnapped in Afghanistan, many schools have been built and many girls who never had the chance to be educated are now being empowered with knowledge.

Greg was in Pakistan when 09/11/01 happened and Americans were being rushed out of the area. He, instead, went into Afghanistan to see what he could do to help. The most moving thing was reading of the refugees of war who had nowhere to go and had to just set up a new life with nothing, and he helped bring education to their camps. I love the respect he has for these people and his message that it is not the Muslims that are the terrorists. They are a peaceful people overall and just want to live their lives like anyone else. He met some amazing people on that trip that have stayed in his life for years since.

I love to read inspiring stories about what one person or one kid can do and share them with my girls. This one was well worthwhile and they thoroughly enjoyed it. Greg M. is truly an amazing man as is his daughter, Amira, who in this kid's version of his story has a Q&A in the back of the book about sharing her dad with so many people. I highly recommend it!

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