Heidi's Reviews > Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace ... One School at a Time

Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson
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Dec 13, 07

bookshelves: non-fiction, read2007
Recommended for: everyone
Read in October, 2007

I had the honor of presenting the author, David Oliver Relin, at our library book group.

Greg Mortenson failed to climb K2, and while he headed back down the mountain, he took a wrong turn, missed his bridge, and found himself in Korphe, a village not found on his maps. (Ridges in the glacier are as big as highways.) The people there welcomed him and brought him back to health. He happened to ask them to take him to their school. There was none. The children met under the cold sky and used sticks to write in the dirt. From that point he made it his mission to bring schools to those remote mountain villages in Afghanistan.

Before they wanted a school, the villagers wanted a bridge so they could build the school. That bridge not only helped bring the school, it changed the lives of the women in the small village. David Relin told us when a woman leaves her family to live with her husband, she may never see them in her life again. One ridge in these mountains might as well be a hundred miles. This little bridge allowed them to visit their families on a weekly basis.

Excerpts, an interview, and audio with Mortenson can be found on Beliefnet here.

David said CAI will never be like Mercy Corps. It is an example of the kinds of organizations we need. Still, compared to Saudi oil money (that funds the Taliban madrassas), it is a drop in the bucket.

David had talked to all kinds of groups in the previous several months. No matter the group, everybody is fed up with the war in Iraq and the "war on terror." He said, "The enemy is not Osama, Sadaam, the enemy is ignorance. We're going after the wrong enemy." He said we need to turn our attention to the root causes of terrorism, poverty and the need for education. One of the things we could do to counter our own ignorance is to "try to remain sensitive to the phrase over there." So much of what passes for news encompasses anything in the Middle East as "over there." Any bad thing is "over there."

An important piece about Afghani politics: the Taliban are thugs and gangsters who want payback. They don't really care whether girls are learning. This surfaced in the book about one of the fatwas put on Greg's head: the local gangster just wanted some kickback.

While David keeps himself out of the book, in the beginning, he does chronicle his first hairy helicopter ride piloted by Brigadier General Bhangoo, who had been Pakistan President Musharraf's personal pilot. He told us that sadly, General Bhangoo had died in a plane crash several months before this October talk. The man was flying an ultralight around K2, intending to fly it around the world.

Other tidbits: David's main translator was Ghulam Parvi, a "personal repository of Balti culture." Freaky moment: ibex head in the helicoptor. If I remember right, it was someone's illicit dinner. Ibex are protected, but, um, General Bhangoo had his connections.

The teachers in the schools are graduates of the schools. They have an equivalent of a 5th or 6th grade education, but that is what the villages need. They then get teacher training workshops during the summers. The 2005 earthquake zones "are still a nightmare." CAI dropped tents at the sites of the schools that crumbled. If someone wishes to sponsor one school, David told us, CAI asks for $50,000. That's $25,000 to build it, and $25,000 to keep it running and in supplies for a decade.

I thought this summed up the wise simplicity of the people that Mortenson grew to love:

No human, nor any living thing, survives long under the eternal sky. The most beautiful women, the most learned men, even Mohammed, who heard Allah's own voice, all did wither and die. All is temporary. The sky outlives everything. Even suffering. ~Bowa Johar, Balti poet, and grandfather of Mauzafer Ali.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Roz (new) - rated it 5 stars

Roz Thanks for this inspiring review. I want to run out and get this book, go to Afghanistan, help children learn and families to be happy and safe, etc, etc


Lulu I only got hooked to this story aafter I reached page 145 something, but overall it's a good book I think.


Victoria Three Cups of Deceit....must read


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