Thursday, April 22, 2010

Stones Into Schools

I am currently reading Stones into Schools by Greg Mortenson. It's the sequel to the bestseller non-fiction Three Cups of Tea, which was about how "Doctor Greg" came to start building schools, especially for girls, in Pakistan and eventually Afghanistan. It was fascinating to read how one lost mountain climber who had no connections in Pakistan or to any NGO was able to build a school in the middle of nowhere and then keep building. Stones into Schools picks up where the first book left off as Greg and the NGO he created start building more schools in war-torn Afghanistan. This paragraph that I read yesterday from Stones into Schools really struck me:
As often happens at such events [opening of a new school], the kids were just besides themselves with anticipation. As Sarfraz and I hopped out of the trailer, they gathered in a line to welcome us. One of the students at the front of the the line, a wispy third grader named Aisha, displayed the knocked-kneed gait that is a by-product if rickets, an ailment common to the remote interior of the Wakhan [region in Afghanistan], where the diet is deficient in vitamin D. Unlike most of the girls, who shyly greeted me with a traditional kiss to the back of my outstretched hand, Aisha gave me an enormous hug and refused to let go.
This little girl was super excited because she gets to go to school. I have always taken for granted that I was able to receive an education. There have even been countless times when I wished I didn't have to go to school. This girl in a remote region of the world has never had the chance to go to school. What would that be like? I can think of a lot of other developments that would benefit these people like better health care or electricity, but a school was just as important to the people of this region.

They wanted a school for their children. They asked Greg to build it there and they donated the land and manpower to make it happen. What is it about an education that is so important? Always having taken my education for granted it's hard to imagine not being able to read, not knowing about the world outside of my little sphere, not knowing about math, history, science. But it must be pretty darn important if these people want it so desperately, and I'm sad that I have always taken it so much for granted. Count your blessings everyday! An education really does shape the way we live our lives.
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