P’lovers Book Club: Stones into Schools

by Greg Mortenson – $18.50

Mortenson continues and deepens the story he started in “Three Cups of Tea” showing us the challenges, opportunities and positive impacts of building schools in remote parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

In particular, he details what happened when he was approached by people from the Hindu Kush, a remote and desolate area of war-torn Northeast Pakistan referred to as ‘the end of the world”. The messengers, who had traveled for days on horseback without stopping, told Mortenson that they were desperate to begin educating their daughters.

Mortenson, of course, wanted to visit the area himself, but knew he would need a guide to help him set up a communications link in Zuudkhan and someone to help him navigate the path to a safe meeting with the Nomadic Tribes. And then Mortenson meets Sarfraz Khan, a man of contradictions with an unusual past: lover of music and dancing; ex-commando; smuggler of gemstones; whiskey drinker and trader of yaks. Over the months and years, Khan and Mortenson have developed a close personal relationship based on complete mutual trust and respect.

Khan proves very helpful in traveling the inhospitable terrain of the Hindu Kush and invaluable in sharing his knowledge of the diverse cultures where each tribal elder has the final word in the lives of members of their tribes. Sarfraz Khan, self-described “man of no much success” has great charisma and the ability to bend other men’s wills to his own. A particular story of how Khan walked for days, while critically ill himself, to get to medical help shows the force of his sheer determination not to die before his work is done.

“Stones into Schools” is both heart-warming and informative. It provides an exploration into Mortenson’s own life, his deep connection with Khan and the people in this almost forgotten part of the world, and the deep passion of their common dream to educate girls and women so they in turn can educate in their communities. It provides a compelling and convincing picture about the power of schools and education to promote peace in war-torn Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The next book is “There’s Lead in Your Lipstick” by Gillian Deacon.

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