July 15, 2008

Three Cups of Tea

Nicholas D. Kristof, who extensively wrote about Mukhtar Mai and Darfur when few others in mainstream US media were talking about them, tells us today about the lone Montana man who...

... has done more to advance U.S. interests in the region (isolated parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan) than the entire military and foreign policy apparatus of the Bush administration.
The man is Greg Mortenson, who builds schools in the region, 'working closely with Muslim clerics and even praying with them at times.'

His superb book about his schools, Three Cups of Tea, came out in 2006 and initially wasn’t reviewed by most major newspapers. Yet propelled by word of mouth, the book became a publishing sensation: it has spent the last 74 weeks on the paperback best-seller list, regulPublish Postarly in the No. 1 spot.


Mr. Mortenson found his calling in 1993 after he failed in an attempt to climb K2, a Himalayan peak, and stumbled weakly into a poor Muslim village. The peasants nursed him back to health, and he promised to repay them by building the village a school.
Scrounging the money was a nightmare — his 580 fund-raising letters to prominent people generated one check, from Tom Brokaw — and Mr. Mortenson ended up selling his beloved climbing equipment and car. But when the school was built, he kept going. Now his aid group, the Central Asia Institute, has 74 schools in operation. His focus is educating girls.
More power to him! Instead of focusing on people like this, our media is too busy focusing on some babies that two celebrities had. (Sorry.. I refuse to link to the ridiculous frenzy over the Brangelina babies.)

And many thanks to Kristof for once again highlighting stories, through his NYT articles and
his blog, that no one else talks about in mainstream media. There is so much there to learn about. For eg: A post a few days back highlights Students Crossing Boundaries, which is ...

... a diverse group of student leaders who have come together to empower each other and other students to explore realities of various conflicts, observe the social, cultural, economic and political conditions of the conflict and document and disseminate their experiences to the public.
Their first report on life in the West Bank is here and pictures from their visit can be seen here.

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