Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Give peace a chance...........

Azerha with her children in Korphe Village. Pakistan.

It all started with a book we read for our book club.... 3 Cups of Tea. I was very taken with the story and impressed with what Greg Mortenson has been doing on his own and now with the help of volunteers and donors. He is building schools in the remotest areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan with an emphasis on teaching girls. Breaking the cycle of ignorance & fear, promoting peace & hope and an end to terrorism with the simple tools of education and positive action.
In these remotest of areas, The Central Asia Institute( Greg) with the help of local advisors, local volunteers and villagers has been helping the people who live there take another route to better lives. The villages have great pride in their new schools. The CAI also promotes rural health care and helping villagers start small initiatives. You should pop by their website and read all that they do, it is remarkable!!!

These are porters carrying roof beams for a new school. Many are in sometimes very inaccessible areas. Greg works with Muslim clerics to overcome barriers to getting the work done and even prays with them occasionally. He is sometimes the first Westerner the children have ever seen and is a positive example to them of what Westerners can be and do. It changes their attitudes.

You can see how barren and remote the area is. This is Lalander school in Afghanistan.
The picture below is it's inauguration. These wee girls look so excited :)

Some Afghanistan facts... Life expectancy 43!!!, Average income per year $250, Literacy 36%
Some Pakistan facts...Life expectancy 63 Average family income per year 410$, Literacy 48% (UNICEF)

Greg Mortenson with Sitara "Star" Schoolchildren., Afghanistan. Star is the name of their school.
These kids live in the harshest of conditions and these schools are also warm and safe places to be.

Khanday Schoolgirls with new uniforms. Pakistan.

Chunda School Inauguration. Pakistan.

Gosh if you are still reading, hooray! So what has this got to do with me you ask? Well, often we read about a cause and think wow, that's great, good for them to be taking action. I read this book and thought this work is so worthwhile and then I thought, I'm going to ask for a donation from each of the book club members and we can support this. Then I thought, hey, maybe I can post about it and others might be inspired to donate too! I am going to make it easy and put a link to a paypal account at the end of this post.

I would love it if any one interested could donate as little as $5.00 or what every you want. I am going to tally it all up and then make a donation of all the money raised. We have already started with my bookclub. If you donate, please leave a comment here on my blog and I will be drawing for a print or photograph of your choice from all of those who have donated, as a way to say thanks from me.
It would be great if you could link to this post from your blogs. I think I think what he is doing is wonderful. Promoting peace and goodwill one brick at a time ! Make this your first Holiday gift. A gift of peace.

$50,000 will build a school and support it for 5 years
$5,000 will support a school for a year
$600 is a teacher's annual salary
$300 one advanced student's scholarship for a year. ( to continue beyond primary school, secondary school, at the nearest village that has more advanced school)
$100 Maternal health care supplies for a year
$50. one treadle sewing machine and supplies
$20. supplies for a student for a year!

Children of Bichik Khan, Buzzai Gumbad, Wakhan Corridor. Afghanistan.

Here is an article from the New York Times in July 2008 written by Nicholas D. Kristoff .
"It Takes a School, Not Missiles"
He tells the story much better than I do..... "Mr. Mortenson has become a legend in the region, his picture sometimes dangling like a talisman from rearview mirrors, and his work has struck a chord in America as well"
"To get a school, villagers must provide the land and the labor to assure a local “buy-in,” and so far the Taliban have not bothered his schools. One anti-American mob rampaged through Baharak, Afghanistan, attacking aid groups — but stopped at the school that local people had just built with Mr. Mortenson. “This is our school,” the mob leaders decided, and they left it intact.
Mr. Mortenson has had setbacks, including being kidnapped for eight days in Pakistan’s wild Waziristan region. It would be na├»ve to think that a few dozen schools will turn the tide in Afghanistan or Pakistan.

Still, he notes that the Taliban recruits the poor and illiterate, and he also argues that when women are educated they are more likely to restrain their sons. Five of his teachers are former Taliban, and he says it was their mothers who persuaded them to leave the Taliban; that is one reason he is passionate about educating girls."

Thanks so much for supporting peace, education and hope .

Kashmiri refugees


Tamara said...

Wow. I am amazed at what's out there in the world and the good that some people can do in it.

Linking! Also, donating!

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Fabulous Shelagh! I read "3 Cups of Tea" also, and was very moved by all that Greg Mortenson has accomplished.

I will definitely add a link to this post on my blog and make a donation.

Thanks! Pat

Anonymous said...

This book has been on my 'to read' list for some time. This settles it--just requested it from the library. I'll be linking to your post...and stopping back by after payday to make a donation. Thanks, pal.

Kim Caro said...

the children are beautiful. the kitty below looks like my cleo.

Christina Silverio said...

This is so incredible of you. I just had to donate as well. This really is what the season is about; thank you!

aliceinparis said...

Thanks so much for your donations!!
A little adds up to a LOT:)

Barbara said...

I just donated. Thanks so much for the heads up and the opportunity to help!


B said...

That picture of the three girls with their new uniforms is absolutely stunning. That won't leave me any time soon.

And hello from a fellow Canadian blogger!

Leslie Rubio said...

So nice of you to donate and what a difference it will make. I really enjoyed reading about Mr. Mortenson and all that he has accomplished for children. I feel this kind of passion for the children of Jamaica and have made it my cause to help them.
I am so happy to have come to your blog through Biddy Brain and will come again to visit soon-just added myself as a follower.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Clean & Bright Soaps and Candles said...

What a wonderful thing you're helping with! I have donated :) I haven't read "3 Cups of Tea" yet, but I think I'll suggest it to my book club when I rejoin...
I have linked to your entry from my own blog - hopefully it will bring a few more people here :)

Flaxen Curls said...

Education is probably one of the best things we could possibly invest in. Made a donation! :)

Anonymous said...

Hi. Just saw this entry and have made a donation via paypal. Great you're using your net outlets to publicize the work Greg's doing. Don't have a blog otherwise I'd link. Will mention to others, though. ...

Received a list msg. via e-mail a few days ago that said in part: "Children dying from the effects of...war...are someone's cherished baby. They are the future. ... They are filled with art and music and literature and science and unknown inventions. They carry the dreams of all children everywhere. The only thing they lack is enough of us caring about them to change the horrible conditions they endure every day. ... This holiday season let's give real and lastings gifts to the children of the world."

Education. What could be more real and lasting? Especially for girls! Especially in countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan!

Thanks again for doing this. And, thanks for your art. I love it.

Sara said...

Hi Shelagh,
I've just linked to your post. You can find it here:

Anonymous said...

I read the book months ago but you have inspired me to finally donate and I just did. Thanks! Lori

aliceinparis said...

Thanks everyone! It is adding up:))

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this opportunity. I have enjoyed your blog for a long while and this is the perfect way to recognize your generosity of spirit!
I travelled through Afghanistan in the late 70's. It was incredibly easy to fall in love with with the people. It has been a disheartening three decades witnessing the tragic series of events that paralyzed such a vibrant country. Now these glimmers of hope must be joyfully supported!

Anonymous said...

So we should educate them so that they come to have the same western thinking and values we do? literacy is the mark of civilisation.These people have lived for thousands of years without literacy.What then afer they have built rows of schools,then rows of malls,then rows of mcmansions?

aliceinparis said...

Dear Anonymous,

I don't usually comment on things like this but your response prompted me to reply. Who said anything about Western thinking and values? Maybe if those values mean equal worth of women to men, yes.

Education = good health, tolerance, long life, greater understanding, ability to learn more to help others and yourself.

Afghanistan is ranked number 2 in the mortality of children under 5 years of age. 25% of children in Afghanistan will not reach their 5th birthday. Only Sierra Leone is worse. "Living for thousands of years without literacy" has helped create this situation. Knowledge saves lives.

The life expectancy today in Afghanistan is 44 years. In 1970 it was 35, education and knowledge are responsible for the lowered death rates. Vaccinations started also. Without education, how do programs like this get off the ground?

Only 29% of women in Afghanistan are literate. They are the caregivers and raise the children. They need to be filled with knowledge on how to make their lives and those of their families healthier. 40% of children under 5 are underweight and over half of the children in Afghanistan, 54% suffer from permanent stunted growth!!

As of 2007 the maternal mortality rate is 1 in 8. Out of every 8 pregnancies, one will result in death. Education and knowledge will go a long way to alleviating these statistics.

Broad education can only help, it does not harm.

Do you want to deny these people a chance at an extra 30 years of life? Children their mothers? Mothers their children?

I am sorry, but I disagree with you on the value of educating women and people in general.

I am not a fan of giant malls and mcmansions, I live simply, but I do believe that with knowledge, people are equipped to make better choices and can understand the consequences of those choices. people with literacy know how to find information about the things they are not sure of and can act accordingly. It is a great equalizer.

If people want malls and mcmansions so be it. Who are we to say no? Better malls and mcmansions than poverty,illness, ignorance and death. Creating buildings like those is a choice.

You have a computer, you have internet, you can read, you are educated. Would you prefer sickness, early death and a life with no words? Reading can bring comfort.It doesn't have to mean 'Western " What about the hundreds of Persian authors and the literature they have created over two and a half millennia? Jelaluddin Rumi, one of the greatest poets ever alive was born in Afghanistan.

I believe education is a gift that continues to give long after it has been received.

"All religions are in substance one and the same.
In the adorations and benedictions of righteous men
The praises of all the prophets are kneaded together.
All their praises are mingled into one stream,
All the vessels are emptied into one ewer.
Because He that is praised is, in fact, only One,
In this respect all religions are only one religion.
Because all praises are directed towards God's light,
Their various forms and figures are borrowed from it.
Men never address praises but to One deemed worthy,"

- Jelaluddin Rumi,Masnavi I Ma'navi/Book III, story 12

Anonymous said...

It was very interesting for me to read the article. Thanks for it. I like such themes and everything connected to them. I definitely want to read a bit more on that blog soon.

Anonymous said...

Greg is a man who believes in all that is good. He is doing a great deal of healing between the nations.