Greg Mortenson got lost one day in 1993 while descending from a climb of the world's second highest mountain. He wandered into a remote village in northern Pakistan and decided that they should have a school. The institute that he established has since built 130 schools and educated 51,000 children in Pakistan and Afghanistan, most of them girls.
Cayley and I read Greg's book "Three Cups of Tea" together about a year ago. It's an extraordinary story! His thesis is simple: help tribal peoples to develop their own education and economic opportunities so that membership in terrorist organizations such as the Taliban is no longer the only viable option for many of them.
Greg Mortenson is going to win the Nobel Peace Prize - the only question is when.
|With schoolchildren in rural Pakistan.|
Courtesy of the Central Asia Institute
This is particularly important now that he has formed an alliance with powerful Houstonian Joanne King Herring.
That story was particularly effective because it showcased the type of American-spirited underdogs who we all secretly hope will save us from further suffocating decline at the hands of our obscenely-overbuilt bureaucracy. Big names and international medal winners don't accomplish the type of turnaround that these people did. Only maverick individuals operating mostly under the radar and entirely according to their own rules can be expected to out-wit the system.
That Mortenson has now allied with Herring represents the ultimate in closure. In early 2010, Charlie Wilson died knowing that the work in Afghanistan was only half done: the country was liberated but was left in the type of shambles that seeds radical militarism. Mortenson independently arose to face that challenge and now he is working with the only other person in this country who has a successful track record of making a difference there. I find this incredibly satisfying: it was meant to be.
|A school built in Afghanistan.|
It's hard to imagine any single organization rising above the deafening din of charitable solicitations with which we all must contend, but that's what the Central Asia Institute did for me - it stood out as a clear choice for my donations. On this page, CAI lists typical costs associated with school-building and school-running. Six hundred dollars pays a teacher's salary for one year! If I give $600 to my church, they might use it to keep the lights on for a few weeks, duh. I must say, I find it much more fulfilling to think that the same sum could support an entire teacher!
|Compare these costs with the cost of ongoing war in Afghanistan, currently estimated at |
FOUR BILLION DOLLARS PER MONTH
Greg Mortenson is the real deal: a selfless American hero setting phenomenal outreach and personal excellence examples for the rest of us.