Pennies for peace

I recently read Three Cups of Tea, the story of Greg Mortenson and his years of working in remote Pakistan and Afghanistan, building schools for some of the most impoverished children in the world.  As a professional in the field of health and development, I was struck by the innocence with which Mr. Mortenson approached the monumental challenges inherent in this field with little support and no training; naively equipped with only respect and kindness in his heart.  Part of the importance of the book is that it clearly demonstrates how the impoverished are easy targets for extremists, who offer free education, housing, and meals to people faced with no other life-sustaining options.  In the area of the world forgotten by American aid and blanketed with US bombs, Greg Mortenson helps communities build schools and provides possibly the only light of American kindness seen by these people.  The book passionately describes the beauty of the land, the people, and the compassion within of each community.  It gives example after example of how, no matter the differences in our cultures or religions, we all want the same opportunities and happiness for our loved ones.

In that spirit, I encourage anyone who wants to honor the anniversary of 9-11 to visit the Central Asia Institute’s website, read about how their programs fight terrorism in it’s root causes, and make a tax deductible donation to this wonderful nonprofit.

UPDATE: This post was named a JUST POST for September 2008.  (Thank you, Alejna!)