Schools not troops for Afghanistan

I’m currently reading Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. It chronicles his time in the pakistan mountains attempting to reach the summit of K2. How he aborted his quest to rescue a fellow climber only to get lost in the mountains himself.

Eventually, he wandered into a remote village, a complete stranger. He was given a warm welcome and shown great hospitality by a people who struggle to feed themselves.

Greg warms to the locals and sets about applying his nursing knowledge in helping administer basic treatments that we take for granted but in the remotest parts of north Pakistan make a huge difference.

There is a point in the book where Greg realises the lengths they go to just to provide some kind of education. He dertimed to build them a school. And so his story begins – how he’s raised the money, overcome local obstacles to build several schools in a troubled region. To educate children and open their eyes to the wider world.

While reading my thoughts can’t help being drawn to current conflicts, Iraq, Afghanistan. How it’s as much a battle of ideas as a war on terror.

We see images on our TV screens of young men, boys even, in madrassas, reading selected extracts of the Koran repeatedly and having the virtues of Jihad or holy war against the war drummed into them.

Surely we can’t beat this with bombs? Wouldn’t it be better if we concentrated our efforts to build schools to enlighten people truth?

Education and through it the opportunity to better your chances in the world, building stronger communities based on tolerance and understanding. Understanding based and increased knowledge. Isn’t this a better way to win hearts and minds than shooting to kill.

Find out more about Greg Mortenson and his inspirational story at www.threecupsoftea.com

Find out more about the project to build schools and not send troops at www.penniesforpeace.org

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