I love fiction. I always have a fiction book that I am reading and one in the wings and a few on hold at the library. I might be addicted to fiction. However, if there was one book that I could recommend and encourage everyone to read, it would be Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace…One School at a Time. It is the most inspiring book I have read in many years and it is non-fiction.
Three Cups of Tea is the amazing story of Greg Mortenson. He is a climbing fiend. I live in the Pacific Northwest; I’ve met a few of those. He attempts to climb K2 in memory of his sister, Christa, and does not make it. It is what happens after that failed journey that really shows his true heart and character. He mistakenly ends up in the village of Korphe, a small town not on his map of Pakistan. It is here, where he is nursed back to health, that he makes a life-altering decision.
“Standing next to Haji Ali, on the ledge overlooking the valley, with such a crystalline view of the mountains he’d come halfway around the world to measure himself against, climbing K2 to place a necklace on its summit suddenly felt beside the point. There was a much more meaningful gesture he could make in honor of his sister’s memory. He put his hands on Haji Ali’s shoulders, as the old man had done to him dozens of times since they’d shared their first cup of tea. ‘I’m going to build you a school,’ he said, not yet realizing that with those words, the path of his life had just detoured down another trail, a route far more serpentine and arduous than the wrong turns he’d taken since retreating from K2.” (pg 33)
And, then, Greg returns to the US. This, really, is where the story starts. He has no money. He is living in his car in the flatlands of Berkeley. He has no connections. And, yet, within 10 years he builds fifty-five schools in Pakistan. It is really an incredible story and a testament to the effect that one dedicated individual can have on hundreds.
If you are interested in learning more or helping out, the Central Asia Institute that Greg founded is continuing this work.