Saturday, September 6, 2008

Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin

I spend a lot of time reading books, magazine and newspaper articles, and watching TV programs that pertain to work being done by nonprofits and NGOS. I spent part of my career in the nonprofit world and have volunteered in my community for as long as I can remember as my mother is also very committed to service.

I talk to friends about their nonprofit work and my company gives generously to a whole host of these organizations. I have a carefully chosen few organizations that I donate to and if friends send me a notice that they are running a race or taking part in some other way to raise money for a charity they believe in, I'm good for a donation. Lately I've been feeling the need to do more and I'm not sure if that means joining a board, lending my business expertise on a pro-bono basis, or committing a great amount of volunteer time. Maybe it means starting my own nonprofit. 

Because of my interest in education, especially that of girls in developing nations, I picked up a copy of Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. The book charts the course that Greg Mortenson took to building schools first in the village of Korphe in Pakistan, then all over that country, and most recently in Afghanistan. I was so moved by Greg's story that about 50 pages through the book I went to the website to make a donation. He is compelling, engaging, passionate, and he's in the field for all the right reasons. 

Greg believes, as I do, that education changes the paradigm. We cannot hope to ensure our own national security and that of our allies if we do not take make the effort to provide basic education, particularly to women, in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan. We cannot go in with guns a-blazing a la George W. Bush, obliterate an entire nation to rubble, and then walk away with a defiant "take that" tossed over our shoulders. Our behavior in the Middle East makes me hang my head in shame. 

The way to peace is through books, through education, and through nurturing the imaginations and curiosities of children. Greg and his nonprofit, the Central Asia Institute, are doing that effectively, efficiently, and safely. I couldn't imagine a better use for my charitable giving.    

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