Book Review: Stones into Schools, Greg Mortenson

I think I have asked most of my friends and family this, but "oh.my.god, have you read Three Cups of Tea?"

 
And now it's time for the next question: Have you read Stones into Schools???

In the first book, Greg Mortenson worked to fulfill a promise he made to one community, and in doing so, he ended up building a succesful nonprofit: Central Asia Institute that works to bring education to the most remote areas in Pakistan and Afghanistan, especially for girls. Girl Power! 
So here's this quiet and shy white man doing amazing things in this foreign country that he is forever linked to simply because he got lost on a climbing trip. Sometimes I get lost....and I just find my way home and dismiss everything on my way. I don't even pay attention to what is around me-I just focus on getting home. Greg got lost....and a whole new life was formed for him. His entire life is now formed around what is going on in random communities on the very far outskirts of countries half a world away from his home.

This book is the next chapter in Greg's life. It does a great job of describing some of the issues that make it difficult to turn monetary donations into something as simple as a 4-walled building that will become the only school in the region. It's not just that they need people to donate money. That's almost the simplest step to get the schools built.

As with most governments, Pakistan and Afghanistan have their own beaurocratic process that is akin to running in a hamster wheel.

And after that hamster wheel is done, there are other wheels that you need to scamper onto...like getting the blessing of the local fighters and/or village chiefs.

And after THAT hamster wheel is done, you have to figure out how to actually get the supplies to the location. This may mean waiting through the harsh winter period before it's possible to transport. Or it might mean travelling miles and miles out of your way because the bridge to get to your location isn't strong enough to carry the supplies. The list goes on and on.
It's not just donating money---again, that's the easy part. It takes a team of people to work out the logistics of this all working. And this team is spearheaded by Greg himself. From a phone in his basement in Montana. Making decisions with people who are on the ground in Pakistan. It's just insane to think about.

I suspect that nothing that most of us do will ever compare to the amazing legacy that Greg Mortenson has created. He has touched millions of lives - with his story, with his books, with his love, with his passion, and with all the countless hours he has devoted to helping children and their communities in another land far from his own.

He's so inspiring. I hope someday that I can do something that even remotely might be a tiny fraction of the awe-inspiring, selfless work he does on a daily basis.

I definitely recommend this book.

You want to read this book if:
  1. You need to be inspired.
  2. You loved Three Cups of Tea and want to know what happens next. 
  3. You are interested in stories of normal people doing extraordinary things.
  4. You want to learn about about the plight of growing the education system in Pakistan and/or Afghanistan.
  5. You care about the world.
On a side note, this book was much more heavy than Three Cups of Tea. There was much more history given and more background information about the culture. While I typically enjoy this type of thing, because I like to learn when I read, it did feel a little tiny bit like a book that was teaching me too much. Sometimes you just want a nice feel-good story, but this is not it. Three Cups of Tea was more like that. This one needed a bit more brain power to follow along.
However - if you are used to using your brain all the time, you'll be fine and can disregard this last note. I'm more of a 72% brain-user (on a good day), so again, a bit more of a heavy read than I expected based off the first book.

Anyone else read this yet? Your thoughts?


5 comments:

  1. Brian Miller said...:

    nice. i read 3 cups...will definitely check it out!

  1. Pam said...:

    I have heard of this book before, but have never gotten to read it. I'll have to check it out.

  1. carma said...:

    I'm one of the few who could not get through Three Cups of Tea - so I may have to take a pass on this one. I'm sure it is inspirational though.

  1. I haven't read it yet, but sounds good!

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