Although it is hard to believe that neither Kevin or I are currently in school (a first in our almost five years of marriage), we still thought it would be helpful for you and for us to write book reports. In the last couple of months, we have been able to read several books that we would love to share with you. We anticipate that this will continue during our time here, we hope that you enjoy it!
One of our latest reads was Stones Into Schools: Promoting Peace with Education in Afghanistan and Pakistan by Greg Morstenson. We rented this from the Hennepin County Library through our Amazon Kindle. In less than ten seconds and at no cost, we pushed “borrow” and the book was loaded to our Kindle. What amazing technology we have!
Although Greg Mortenson has recently acquired some controversy due to the integrity of his first book Three Cups of Tea along with questionable expenditures from his non-profit, we would highly recommend this book to people interested in peace building, education, development work and how to bring change to this world. Mortenson shares several stories about the building of schools for children, mainly girls in Afghanistan and Pakistan. His organization has also expanded into doing more work with women in the areas of health care, education and the use of technology.
Mortenson “believes quite sincerely that the conflict in Afghanistan will ultimately not be won with guns and air strikes, but with books, notebooks, and pencils, the tools of socioeconomic well-being.” (Khaled Hosseini, author of Kite Runner)
One small step for a brave young girl, one giant leap for a community.
Studies from the World Bank indicate that just one year of primary school can result in an income bump of 10 percent to 20 percent for women later in life. According to Yale economist Paul T. Schultz, an extra year of secondary school may raise that same girl’s lifetime wages by an additional 15 to 25 percent. And the effects don’t end there. A number of studies indicate that in communities were a majority of the girls are educated through fifth grade, infant mortality drops significantly after a single generation. Simply put, young women are the single biggest potential agents of change in the developing world – a phenomenon that is sometimes referred to as the “Girl Effect.”
If you teach a boy, you educate an individual; but if you teach a girl, you educate a community.
No other factor even comes close to matching the cascade of positive changes triggered by teaching a single girl how to read and write. In military parlance, girls’ education is a “force multiplier” – and in impoverished Muslim societies, the ripple effects of female literacy can be profound.
One thing that impressed us with Mortenson is his willingness and ability to work as a humanitarian while working in step with the military. Often we find ourselves believing that it has to be one way or the other; however Mortenson has found a way to bridge the two of these. His first book, Three Cups of Tea has actually entered into the curriculum for U.S. military personal.
Throughout the book Mortenson shares bits and pieces of conversations with different military staff, “I am convinced that the long-term solution to terrorism in general and Afghanistan specifically is education. The conflict here will not be won with bombs but with books and ideas that excite the imagination toward peace, tolerance, and prosperity. The thirst for education here is palpable. People are tired of war after 30 years and want a better future. Education will make the difference whether the next generation grows up to be educated patriots or illiterate fighters. The stakes could not be higher.” LTC Chris Kolenda.