In 1993 Greg Mortenson attempted to climb Pakistan's K2, the world's second highest mountain range. His attempt failed and he ended up recovering in a small village named Korphe. As residents of the village nursed him back to health, he made a promise to one day return and build a school. From that promise came an international humanitarian organization which promotes education especially for girls throughout remote areas of Pakistan. This story is chronicled in Mortenson's 2006 novel Three Cups of Tea.
Stones Into Schools: Promoting Peace With Books, Not Bombs, In Afghanistan and Pakistan picks up where Three Cups of Tea left off, tracing his efforts to build more schools in a new country - Afghanistan. To date, Mortenson's organization, Central Asia Institute (CAI) has built more than 130 schools in remote regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Stones Into Schools is a fascinating look at an area of the world that we in the West are cut off from (in fact, these areas are almost completely cut off from the rest of the world.) This is not the Afghanistan we see on the television, where women are subjugated to second class status and where a deep hatred for the West prevails. Instead we see an Afghanistan where fathers are desperate for their daughters to go to school, where there is a genuine appreciation for Mortenson and the others who are able to help them, and where everyone understands that the key to their country's future lies in the education of girls.
Mortenson and his co-workers go to extraordinary lengths to make the wishes of Afghanistan a reality. They face perilous winters, Taliban opposition, poor functioning government agencies, illness, and violence. And yet in every situation, no matter how remote the region is they are able to make good on their promise and give thousands of young girls an opportunity they may not see otherwise.
Mortenson provides stunning insight into how education makes a difference in this world, how it is the strongest weapon we have against extremism and how it is a basic and fundamental right everyone should have access to. He daringly goes to areas of the world most have never heard of and would never dare to go to change the lives of people he has never met. It is no wonder that Mortenson's novels are required reading for Military counterinsurgency classes.
Stones Into Schools is an incredible reminder of how one person can make a difference in this world, how we are all more alike than we think and how the world can be transformed through education.
"If you teach a boy, you educate an individual; but if you teach a girl, you educate a community." - African Proverb