Three Cups Of Tea

3-cups-of-teaInshallah, which translates literally  “as Allah wills it”,  is a very
commonly used phrase in Pakistan.    And apparently Allah wills that I participate in this year’s 2009 Pierce County Reads Program.    We offer up tons and Tons of copies of the selected book at the library and there are a whole range of discussions, teas and other events to get everyone in our community talking about the same book.    And what an absolutely amazing and wonderful book it is this year.      In Pakistan they say it takes Three Cups Of Tea to do business.   On the first cup you’re a stranger, on the second cup you become friends and by the third cup you’re family.   And Greg Mortenson, director of the Central Asia Institute has been building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan since 1993,  on a one man mission to promote peace, one school at a time.

In September 1993 Greg Mortenson, who supported his love of mountain climbing by working night shifts as a registered nurse in the San Francisco Bay area, attempted to climb K-2 in Pakistan’s Karakoram mountain range. He did not make the peak,  though he did help to save another climber’s life when the man was severely stricken with altitude sickness and had to be brought down the mountain.    Mortenson, an experienced and capable climber failed to realize he was suffering some altitude sickness himself and twice became lost and separated from his local guide and wandered into the tiny village of Korphe,  where he was taken in by a leading local family and nursed back to health.   As he recovered Mortenson one day ventured out into the village and was very struck by seeing the local children, outside in the cold attempting to do their lessons on their own, as the government could only provide them with a teacher every other day. Impulsively,  Mortenson promises to build a school for this village.

So begins Three Cups Of TeaPierce County Reads 2009 book selection.   The story of Mortenson’s remarkable career bringing education to rural, poor children in Pakistan and later in neighboring Afghanistan,  is stunningly told by co-author David Oliver Relin who paints a compelling and deeply moving account of a remarkable humanitarian whose tireless work to bring education into the lives of young Muslims who might otherwise prove ripe for recruiting by the ever increasing numbers of Saudi-sponsored Wahabi jihadist schools. One particularly astute Pakistani explains that “it’s not Saddam or Osama that the United States needs to target and defeat , it’s Ignorance.”   I really and genuinely enjoyed reading Mortenson’s story.   Three Cups Of Tea Very, Very Highly Recommended.  Buy Now $10.50