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Stones Into Schools

December 18, 2009

In April of this year I read Three Cups of Tea and I absolutely adored it. It’s one of those books that just really stuck with me, and changed the way I thought about our global future, and gave me hope that there may be a solution to something that seems so tangled and bleak.

Greg Mortenson just released what could probably be described as a continuation, called Stones into Schools about his continuing work in Afghanistan and Pakistan, trying to bring education and literacy to villages at the seeming edge of the world.  The overall message hasn’t changed, and to quote … myself from my review of Three Cups of Tea:

“The book also served to confirm and validate my long-held belief that a lot of the world’s problems and poverty could be alleviated or eradicated by focusing on the education and empowerment of women and children. If you give a woman the chance to free herself from poverty, and an education, they can protect themselves from tyranny. They can become self-supporting and in turn, can show her children that there is another way. If you are raised in poverty and have the bleakest of futures, it’s hard to imagine a better world, and it’s easy to turn to hate.  If you have a future, and a chance, and access to at the very least, clean water, food and medical care, then maybe we can turn future potential terrorists who had to unite against something to people who can create their own paths and futures.

Give a woman a chance to participate in her government and economy, or be able to read and write and you will give her options. My guess is that the options will be to take care of her children, and most likely have less children that she can’t afford, and stay in marriages where she may be abused. We need to stop treating women like second class citizens, and invest more time, money and effort into those that will be raising the next generation.”

But it’s not just about rising up – it’s about showing a different path. He talks about the apocalyptic earthquake that struck this region, and how despite all the aid that people tried to give, the most organized and efficient organization at reaching folks was the Taliban. And in order to accept that aid, boys had to attend their schools – breeding hatred and the subjugation of women, literacy and freedom. If we could reach these people first, and offer a secular education – think about the benefits the entire would could reap.

A large chunk of my  recent job responsibilities have been doing a lot of social media involving the military, and because I work at an education company – some of the connections and people mentioned in the books are very familiar to me.  After reading Mortenson’s stories about interactions with current military leaders , it gave me such a great rush of pride and hope.  I think that if we can continue to have these champions of education, we have a shot.

This year has been pretty tough financially, and there have been some charities that I have long-supported that I wish I could give more towards, but this book struck a chord and renewed some hope and charity.  The CAI (Greg’s organization) does some amazing work, and their mission is so important. If you donate anything from now until January 15th, and leave me a comment or send me an email, I will match that in my own donation.*

Thanks, and again – I really encourage the reading of both Three Cups of Tea and Stones into Schools. I also think they would make wonderful gifts, or fodder for your upcoming book clubs!

*Up to $150, because honestly even that is stretching it – but this just seems so crucial.

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