Monday, March 06, 2006

An Ounce of Prevention

This past week, I was really alerted to the "great" journalistic value of Parade by Bp. Fitz Allison. As I opened the publication on Sunday (which comes with our Sunday paper), an article jumped off the pages at me. I really believe in what he's doing. It goes to the heart of the problem in terrorism, and though results are slow, I think the solution will be long term! (In fact Mortenson's book, Three Cups of Tea is all about taking the time to see lasting results)

The actual article will only be available online on Wed March 8, but this is an earlier one about what he's doing:

PARADE Magazine | He Fights Terror With Books (Greg Mortenson of Central Asia Institute): "Tucked amid a grove of poplar trees at the edge of emerald barley fields in Korphe, an isolated village in northern Pakistan, stands a tiny four-room school. This afternoon, a 17-year-old girl is about to confront Greg Mortenson, the American who built it. Her name is Jahan, and her intention is to remind Mortenson of a pledge he made to her when the building opened in September 1996.

“Do you remember the promise you made that day?” Jahan asks in Balti, the local language. “I told you that I want to be a doctor, and you said you would help. You fulfilled your pledge to us when our school was built. But today you must keep your promise to me. I’m ready for medical training, and I need 20,000 rupees [$400] to attend a maternal health-care program.”

Her request marks an extraordinary milestone in the 600-year history of the Braldu Valley. The narrow Braldu stretches high in the Karakorams, a spectacular range of granite mountains that straddles the border between India, Pakistan and China, where snow leopards roam across blue-ice glaciers. The Braldu is a place of equally spectacular isolation and poverty: The majority of its 3000 people are illiterate; one of every three babies dies before its first birthday; and local power rests in the hands of Shiite mullahs who take religious orders from the ayatollahs of Iran.

Korphe, though, is different. For, in this part of northern Pakistan (see map on page 6), a region that now sits on the front lines of the war against terrorism, Jahan is the first girl ever granted the privilege of learning to read and write.

The man to whom Jahan makes her petition is sitting cross-legged in the middle of a council of village elders. As the U.S. confronts Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq, Greg Mortenson, 45, is quietly waging his own campaign against Islamic fundamentalists, who often recruit members through religious schools called madrasas. Mortenson’s approach hinges on a simple idea: that by building secular schools and helping to promote education—particularly for girls—in the world’s most volatile war zone, support for the Taliban and other extremist sects eventually will dry up..."

Click here to read more.

1 comment:

Jon W said...

Here's the actual article I first read. It gives an update of his work to date.