I heard about Greg Mortenson’s work in building Korphe school near the Braldu river in the Karakoram shortly before my 2001 Pakistan trip. When I unexpectedly encountered a brand new school in the village of Hushe I at once knew that this was a further achievement by Greg. Here girls as well as boys are being educated. The story of its construction, completed in 1998, is included in chapter 16 of Three Cups of Tea; One Man's Mission to Promote Peace One School at a Time. This book, written by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin, has been a New York Times best seller for an incredible 94 weeks.
I made contact with his organization, The Central Asia Institute (CAI), when I got back. In 2006, although I knew Greg would be incredibly busy, I wrote to ask if he would write a foreword to my book. To my astonishment he said yes—with enthusiasm. That was just before the paperback edition of Three Cups of Tea hit the world. I finally shook Greg by the hand this fall, but I had to stand in line for two hours to meet him and thank him for his support. Such is fame.
The Institute’s publication Journey of Hope arrived last week. It records the growth of the CAI and its success in working with communities to achieve their educational goals in the mountains of the Karakoram, Pamir and Hindu Kush. In Pakistan and Afghanistan, where so much is going wrong and the struggle for military control seems endless, this is one story that is going right. What a difference a small amount of money can make when the community is determined to succeed.
Today I received a Christmas card from Jim Koenigsfeld of Durango, CO. We shared a tent on the way to Everest in 2005. Greg visited Durango and Father Jim had the presence of mind to ask Greg to add his signature to mine in his copy of Himalayan Portfolios. Thanks Jim for the idea. If you, the reader, can track Greg down I am sure he will be delighted to sign your copy.
PS. The new CAI calander features schools being built in the Pamir mountains of Afghanistan.