Yesterday was this month's book club lunch. We had a great spread for lunch.
You may remember my post of the asparagus tart around Valentine's Day. This time I tried it with zucchini and crumbled Italian sausage.
This month we read a fascinating memoir. I am not terribly fond of most non-fiction (except cookbooks), but this is an amazing story of Greg Mortenson's campaign to educate the children of Pakistan.
David Oliver Relin writes the story of Greg Mortenson, an American mountain climber, on a trek to K2, the most difficult mountain peak in the world. Greg became lost in the Karakoram mountains, and was finally rescued and nursed back to health in the tiny village of Korphe. He wanted to repay the kindness and generosity of these very poor villagers, and saw a young child trying to educate herself by writing with a stick in the dirt. Greg Mortenson vowed to return to build a school for the children of this village.
The remainder of the book tells the incredible story of Greg returning to Berkley, CA, selling everything he owned, and finding a way to fulfill his promise. His mission went from one school to a new career of building more than 55 schools in areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Mortenson's challenges were many! At first he deals with physically getting funding and building materials to this remote mountain village without bridges, transportation, through avalanches and freezing weather conditions. But these problems and the difficult terrain were the least of his challenges. He just wants to help these kids learn. He lived among the people of the region that gave birth to the Taliban and sanctuary to Al Queda. He was kidnapped and held hostage. He believed the road to peace was fighting ignorance and poverty through education for boys AND girls, one village at a time.
As his mission grew, and especially after 9/11, he met with negativity from many Americans for "helping the enemy". His relationships and endless cups of tea with Islamic village elders continued to build peace during a time when the U.S. talked of our "war on terrorism". Greg Mortenson fights the hatred and prejudice that are the causes terrorism by giving young Muslim children a chance to receive a balanced education rather than join an extremist group. He shows readers the spirit of the mass of peace-loving people in the Muslim world. He gives us a way to help too. Absolutely INSPIRATIONAL!
Greg Mortenson was in the desert a couple of weeks ago, and seveal of my book club friends attended his presentation at a local library. Someone in the audience challenged him by saying, "The suicide bombers in 9/11 were educated." Greg smiled and said, "Yes but their mother's weren't." He feels strongly about education for women, and how much influence the mothers have in the culture of these Muslim people. Check out more about Greg Mortenson and his projects!
By the way, dessert was a BIG hit!