Greg Mortenson pushed the limits of life through extreme mountain climbing until he found those that had no choice but to live on the edge. After experiencing the hospitality of the members of a small tribe amongst the mountains of Pakistan, he decided to revert his life to helping those that has been so kind even while living in squalor and poverty…
His book, Three Cups of Tea, uses the power of personal story along with statistical facts to convince his reader of the power of Middle Eastern women. This paper analyzes some of these stories and facts to support Mortenson’s theory. The power of educating women is seen through the resistance of extremist Islamic characters attempting to hinder Mortenson’s project. Toward the beginning of the book, a particularly conservative mullah, or religious teacher, states, “Allah forbids the education of girls. And I forbid the construction of this school” (152). In an area of the world led by such religious leaders, this mullah then demanded twelve of the tribe’s largest rams in exchange for the school. Mortenson explains, “in these villages, a ram is like a firstborn child, prize cow, and family pet rolled into one” (152). This not only shows that the tribes leader, Haji Ali, understands the importance of female education, but also shows the resistance to change of those who fear a loss of power in the midst of a transformation. One main reason for this fear may also be the fact that sons need permission from their mothers to engage in jihad (208). However, not all religious leaders feel this way. Some are aware of the benefits of educating women: “Sher Takhi had polio as a child, and he walked with a limp, so it must have been agony for him…It was this conservative mullah’s way of showing his support for educating all the children of Korphe, even the girls” (151). The preliminary opposition from one Mullah toward women’s education represents the restrictions of the former terrorist Taliban regime. Therefore, lifting these restraints and allowing girls to go to school, is a key step toward developing a terror-free peaceful society in Pakistan. Another illustration of the benefits of female education comes from one girl’s story of how education positively affected both her life and the lives of those in her village. The eldest daughter, Shakeela, of the chief of one of the Pakistani villages describes the change invoked in her community from her desire to further her own education: “At first, when I began to attend school, many people in my village told me a girl has no business doing such a thing… Now when I return to my village, I see all the families sending their girls to school. And they tell me…’You’re bringing honor to the village’” (208). According to Mortenson, this change in the village members’ reactions comes from the advantages of female education. He notes, “Once you educate the boys, they tend to leave the villages and go search for work in the cities…But the girls stay home, become leaders in the community, and pass on what they’ve learned. If you really want to change a culture, to empower women, improve basic hygiene and health care, and fight high rates of infant mortality, the answer is to educate girls” (209). Shakeela interest in becoming a doctor exemplifies how education can increase the basic sanitation of a village. If she were to continue her education, she would learn how to keep her village clean and could teach other members. While men could perform this same duty, as Mortenson mentions, they are likely to leave the village than females and would be unlikely to teach everyone. For these reasons Mortenson ...
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After becoming a cofounder of Central Asia Institute (CAI), Mortenson becomes part of an organization, which oversees the establishment of close to 200 schools. These schools provide education to more than 64,000 children with majority of these students being girls.
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