Greg_Mortenson_try_this_second by jianghongl


Christine Rathje                                               12/8/08

       When Greg Mortenson emarked on his adventure to climb

Pakinstan’s K2, he had one mission in mind. This mission has

now morphed into something even bigger than climbing the largest

mountain in the world. He has impacted the lives of thousands of

children and it all began with just Three Cups of Tea.

       Greg Mortenson was born in the United States, but he grew

up in the shadows of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, a country on the

east coast of Africa. His parents were active community members.

His father was instrumental in starting a teaching hospital, and his

mother was the founder of a very good boarding school


professional-photo/). From these early beginnings, Mortenson

realized the importance of helping others and contributing to the


       Mortenson served in the military and then went on to the

University of South Dakota to study nursing. In 1992, his sister

died of a massive seizure, which greatly impacted his life

Christine Rathje                                                12/8/08

professional-photo/). A year later, as he was climbing K2 in her

honor, something amazing happened. He failed to reach the

summit and was severely weakened by the attempt. He stumbled

into a village, where the people nursed him back to health. Over

the infamous “three cups of tea”, he asked the villagers how he

could repay them. The villagers were skeptical because all of the

other Americans who had wound up in their village were never

heard from again. After further pressing, Mortenson learned the

village needed a school (Griffis).

       Upon returning to his home in Montana, Mortenson began a

letter writing campaign to solicit donations for the new 5

classroom school he planned to build in Pakistan. He wrote 580

total letters to famous people and organizations but only received

one check for $100


       This initial setback did not stop him from achieving his goal.

He sold all of his mountain climbing equipment and even his car in

order to raise money to build his schools. His organization,
Christine Rathje                                                                12/8/08

Pennies for Peace, was soon discovered by the entire world and he

was soon collecting enough donations to begin his schools



 In order to be selected for a school, a community must donate the
property and help construct the building. This ensures that there is
an interest in having the school within the community, and people
are involved enough to send their children.
       Mortenson’s schools are changing Pakistan because the focus
is on educating the girls. Over 18,000 girls have attended his
schools, and these girls would never have been educated had his
schools never been built. As they are becoming women and
mothers, they are encouraging their young sons to be educated and
stay out of militant groups like the Taliban, who prey on illiterate,
poor young men and draw them in as soldiers. According to
Congresswoman Mary Bono (Rep.-Cal.), his idea of educating
girls promotes economic development too. “You can drop bombs,
hand out condoms, build roads, or put in electricity, but until the
girls are educated a society won’t change”(

His work has not been without difficulty. In 1996, he survived an eight day armed
kidnapping in
the Northwest Frontier Province NWFP tribal areas of Pakistan, escaped a 2003 firefight
feuding Afghan warlords by hiding for eight hours under putrid animal hides in a truck
going to
a leather-tanning factory. He has overcome two fatwehs from enraged Islamic mullahs,
Christine Rathje                                                                12/8/08
CIA investigations, and also received hate mail and death threats from fellow Americans
9/11, for helping Muslim children with education.
Christine Rathje                                             12/8/08

“About Greg Mortenson”

mortenson-bio-and-professional-photo, 12/8/08.

04/15/08, Randall Griffis, interview by Christine Rathje.

“True Stories,”



Kristoff, Nicholas. “It takes a School, Not Missiles.”

missiles/. 12/07/08.

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