Greg Mortenson Nominated for Nobel Prize
Rehberg Writes to Nobel Committee
Greg Mortenson, co-founder of the Central Asia Institute in Bozeman, author of the bestselling book "Three Cups of Tea," and a man who has established schools in Pakistan and Afghani-stan, was recently nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Montana Congressman Denny Rehberg, a nomination sure to be seriously considered given Mortenson’s extraor-dinary story and accomplishments.
In a letter to the Norwegian Nobel Committee, which was signed by five other members of Congress, Rehberg wrote: "The Nobel Peace Prize recognizes individuals who have worked tirelessly to promote peace and prosperity in countries around the world...Greg Mortenson's work advancing children's education in volatile countries encompasses these values. I can think of no one more deserving of this award."
Mortenson has established at least 78 schools. mostly for girls, in remote regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan while working with village leaders and government offici-als. "Mr. Mortenson has clearly demonstrated his strong character, determination, and unique ability to work peacefully with foreign leaders during a time of adversity," Rehberg wrote in the letter. "To honor Mr. Mortenson's exceptional humanitarian and peaceful efforts, we ask that you give this nomination your full consideration. We greatly appreci-ate your effort in this regard..."
"He advocates girl's education as the key to economic development and peace, and he continues to fight to make this possible where it otherwise may not be achieved," Rehberg’s letter goes on to say.
The other members of Congress who signed the letter nominating Mortenson were Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.), Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.), Rep. Connie Mack (R-Fla.), Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio).
A native Minnesotan, Mortenson now lives in Bozeman with his family. His humanitarian mission began in a way that rivals or transcends stories of epic fiction. As a mountain climber, he was attempting to climb the second-highest mountain on Earth (after Mount Everest), called K2, which rises 28,251 feet in the Karakoram area of the Himalayas, northern Pakistan, near the border with China and Tibet.
Mountain climbers call K2 the Savage Mountain, and for good reason. Reaching the summit is not only extremely difficult, it is an often deadly enterprise that claims one out of every five climbers who make the effort. Descending the mountain in 1993, after failing to reach the summit, Mortenson lost his way and found himself in a Pakistani village tucked away in a remote area. Suffering physically from his ordeal, the villagers took care of Mortenson until he was fit to leave, and it was at that time he promised to return and build a school. Mortenson fulfilled his promise, and the building of one school led to the building of many others in remote areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan, not without difficulty as he negotiated and eased the concerns of tribal elders about a westerner proposing to build schools for girls in an area known to be a recruiting ground for the Taliban. So began the Bozeman-based Central Asia Institute and Mortenson's work as a humanitarian.
The following passage from threecupsoftea.com describes Mortenson's experience in greater detail:
In Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace…One School at a Time, Greg Mortenson and journalist David Oliver Relin recount the journey that led Mortenson from a failed 1993 attempt to climb Pakistan’s K2, the world’s second highest mountain, to successfully establish schools in some of the most remote regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan. By replacing guns with pencils, rhetoric with reading, Mortenson combines his unique background with his intimate knowledge of the third-world to promote peace with books, not bombs, and successfully bring education and hope to remote communities in central Asia.
Three Cups of Tea is at once an unforgettable adventure and the inspiring true story of how one man really is changing the world—one school at a time.
In 1993 Mortenson was descending from his failed attempt to reach the peak of K2. Exhausted and disoriented, he wandered away from his group into the most desolate reaches of northern Pakistan. Alone, without food, water or shelter, he stumbled into an impoverished Pakistani village where he was nursed back to health.
While recovering he observed the village’s 84 children sitting outdoors, scratching their lessons in the dirt with sticks. The village was so poor that it could not afford the $1-a-day salary to hire a teacher. When he left the village, he promised that he would return to build them a school. From that rash, heartfelt promise grew one of the most incredible humanitarian campaigns of our time.
In an early effort to raise money he wrote letters to 580 celebrities, businessmen, and other prominent Americans. His only reply was a $100 check from NBC’s Tom Brokaw. Selling everything he owned, he still only raised $2,400. But his efforts changed when a group of elementary school children in River Falls, Wisconsin, donated $623.40 in pennies, and who inspired adults to begin to take action. The 283 foot Braldu Bridge was completed in 1995 and the Korphe School was completed in 1996. Since then, he’s established 78 schools. In pursuit of his goal, Mortenson has survived an armed kidnapping, fatwas issued by enraged mullahs, repeated death threats, and wrenching separations from his wife and children. Yet his success speaks for itself.
Three Cups of Tea is one of the most remarkable adventure stories of our time. Greg Mortenson’s dangerous and difficult quest to build schools in the wildest parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan is not only a thrilling read, it’s proof that one ordinary person, with the right combination of character and determination, really can change the world. —Tom Brokaw