27 March 2010

Stones Into Schools - Book Review

A couple weeks ago I got a package from my darling mother. She loves to send me packages of her finds from the White Elephant thrift store in Sitka, Alaska and other random doo-dads. She often sends in the package a book that she's recently read or would recommend. I have stacks of books from her that I still haven't started to read. But when I received Stones Into Schools by Greg Mortenson from my mom, I knew that it was going on the top of my reading list, and I took the opportunity to start the book on a recent sick day.

I'm not a pro book reviewer, so I would rather throw at you a lame attempt at a book endorsement. Greg Mortenson has led an amazing life, one that I would only hope to partially emulate. He has taken on the responsibility of bringing education to Pakistan and Afghanistan, particularly the girls in that community. He first writes of his adventures in his book, Three Cups of Tea. But you don't need to read that in order to understand Stones into Schools. I didn't... but I'm definitely going to back track now to do so. When I naively opened the pages of Stones into Schools for the first time, though, I simply began by reading the introduction, and from there I was hooked! The story is SO inspiring. I'm not kidding. After only reading the introduction I wanted to start my own NGO, tell Scott about this divine intervention, and send money to Greg Mortenson for Central Asia, or all three.

"If you teach a boy, you teach an individual. If you teach a girl, you teach a community." This is the girl effect. In Mortenson's book, Stones into School, he gives an amazing account and facts to support "the girl effect" - how educating women makes such a huge difference in economies to eventually bring about a possibility of world peace. In fact, in the beginning chapters of his book he even said that the Taliban, when looking for new recruits, focuses on communities where the female population is particularly uneducated. They have more success in those communities because culturally the mothers have to give their permission for their sons to join the "jihad."

I love The Girl Effect, because it is so true! One person can make such a difference, and it is exponential when that person is a woman. I especially love this YouTube movie for The Girl Effect sponsored by Nike. Motivating advertising! I've had it in my list of "Bzzing Sites for Your Curiosity" for quite some time now. I am a firm believer too, that education makes a huge difference in world health, which is a concept dramatically portrayed in this non-fiction book.

In the final acknowledgments of Mortenson's book, he says, "It is my hope and prayer that over the next decade we will do everything in our power to achieve universal literacy and provide education for [the 120 million school-aged children on this planet who remain illiterate and are deprived of education], two thirds of whom are girls. Nothing would make me more pleased than if Stones into Schools became a catalyst to reach this goal."

I would like to add my prayer to his.

Visit Greg Mortenson's Central Asia Institute website.