The idea that appealed most to me when I saw this book was the subtitle : “One man’s Mission to Promote Peace…One School at a Time” Here comes a story I have never heard of before. In fact had somebody narrated it to me I wouldn’t even believe it. It breaks past stereotypes of all kinds and makes you realize that if you want to help anyone at any part of the world all it takes is one good heart!
Greg Mortenson is ahead of his time always. He is a new picture of America, a picture I’d like to keep. One of humanity and kindness. And one of humility.
This story is far away from the images we have of Pakistan: The “madrassas”, where maulvis “train” children to become terrorists and how every village has a Kasab born in them.
We, Indians, are generally very shallow. We take everything exactly the way it is served and forget that there exists a world where such battles exist, where a walk to school could maim you or even kill you. Greg Mortenson goes to such a world and comes back victorious. He talks of a tangible permanent solution which we could use against all forms of terrorism (and god knows we have fought our demons too many times!) He answers the question everyone is now asking regarding the Maoist “situation” in our country. He answers it with one word : education.
A part of a team of mountaineers, scaling the difficult terrain of K2, Greg was lost and spent a terrible time surviving the grueling cold mountains of Karakoram till he was found and taken care of by Haji Ali a local village chieftain. There is a sweet moment in the book when Haji Ali shows him the local school, or the place they call a school. The village has no teacher who’d come this far everyday so on the days without a teacher, the little boys and girls sit in an open ground writing on the sand with sticks. Haji Ali says, the one thing I wish for is a school for this village and Greg overcome by the desperation of the kids to learn puts his hand on Haji Ali’s shoulder and says “I’ll build you a school”.
What starts with one school goes on to become a revolution. The one thing the author writes about is that the moment you meet Greg Mortenson you start thinking “What should I do? How could I help?” and this emotion is not just on the meeting. I found myself going through the Three Cups of Tea website and clicking on the How To Help section, the moment I finished the book. The story is simple enough. The man had no money, no job and just had a simple dream to build a school for a bunch of Pakistani kids he had only met once.
The best part of the story would probably be Mortenson’s humility. He’s bad with compliments the author says, he just blushes and mumbles I just got lucky. And he did, the story has a lot of other heroes as well. But for Mortenson’s desire and relentless will, these people would have never known how exactly to help.
For the first time I saw the Kargil War from the other side and actually went ahead to apologize to my counterparts across the borders. We all really do have the same problems : corrupt governments, uncontrollable armies and social issues. I wish Mortenson would realize that none of the Indians knew about the injustice done in Pakistan during the war.
The book is a must read for inspiration, kindness and most of all for humanness. I think we are innately human and want to help, we just have to believe in our convictions and take that first step and make the resolve. With you all the way Dr. Greg 🙂
P.S: The next book has been published and talks about the next piece in the struggle and is called “Stones into Schools”. Mortenson has now moved on to Afghanistan with the resolve of building schools for the war ravaged country.