Inspiration - Handmade in the Heartland


The last few days have been inspiring. Last night we went to see Greg Mortenson speak, he wrote Three Cups of Tea which i finished a few months ago and was on tour for his new book Stones into Schools. Matt has already finished Stones in Schools and I am excited to read it. Greg is an amazing person who shows us that just ONE person can truly make a HUGE difference in the world. After a failed attempt at climbing K2 in Pakistan Greg stumbled off the mountain, sick from the altitude and lost, he ended up in a remote village called Korphe and ends up making a promise to the children in the village. A promise that he will come back and build them a school. As of October 2009, Greg's Central Asia Institute has established over 131 schools in rural Afghanistan and Pakistan, which provide education to 54,000 students including over 44,000 girls.

I was impressed with his entire talk but a few things stood out: first, that if we want to eliminate poverty it won't happen through a think tank in Washington D.C- Poverty must be touched, and felt and visited- to help we must empower people to help themselves, not fix it for them. This is exactly what Greg and the Central Asia Institue do by building schools across Afganistan and Pakistan where women have never been educated or literate until now. He also mentioned that the military has been very interested in Three Cups of Tea and he even recieved an email and follow up visit from General Patreas. Three cups of tea is required reading for all Special Ops forces going into Afganistan. Admiral Mike Mullen, U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff paid a visit with Greg to Pushgur school, in a remote valley of Afghanistan, to inaugurate one of Mortenson’s new schools, to highlight the military’s new strategy to advocate empowering local communities, build relationships and the significance of education to promote peace.

Greg has shown that through education, specifically of women, that you can fight the Taliban with books and not bombs- and that it works. He left us with this Persian Proverb:

"If you educate a man you educate an individual,
but if you educate a woman you educate a village"

On Wednesday evening we went to see Invictus which was almost as moving. Nelson Mandela is truly a great leader, and Morgan Freeman was excellent! I loved the poem by William Ernest Henley that Nelson read and said that it kept him hanging on during the 27 years he was imprisoned. You can read it below. The most moving theme of the movie was the message that forgiveness is essential, and as hard as it may be we must have a forgiving heart.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
-William Ernest Henley

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