11 November 2010

Three cups of tea

Anyone familiar with Greg Mortenson's book will realise where the title of this blog originated. My local library's copy of that book (Three Cups of Tea) was out last time I checked so I've been reading his second book, Stones into Schools instead. It's truly inspirational!


Working through his nonprofit Central Asia Institute (CAI), Mortenson has worked to promote peace through education by establishing over 145 schools, most of them for girls, in remote regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Perhaps his success stems from his simple philosophy. He believes young women are the single biggest potential agents of change in the developing world, a belief that stems from an African proverb he often heard during his childhood years in Tanzania: 'If you teach a boy, you educate an individual; but if you teach a girl, you educate a community.' (Stones into Schools, p.13)

And he achieves his success through building relationships with the local people. As he writes, the title of Three Cups of Tea refers to a Balti saying: 'The first cup of tea you share with us, you are a stranger. The second cup, you are a friend. But with the third cup, you become family -- and for our families we are willing to do anything, even die.' (Stones into Schools, p.17)

Don't get me wrong here. I have no intention of heading into the back of beyond to build schools. That is for stronger souls than mine. But I do find it uplifting that one man can make such a difference in such a multinational, multilingual, multicultural world.

*** Update
Since I wrote this blog, Greg Mortenson has been revealed as a lier and a fraud. Click on this link to read the latest. SHAME on him!