Greg Mortenson

by Patty from Austin

Greg in Pakistan (Greg Mortenson Website)
Greg in Pakistan (Greg Mortenson Website)

When one person makes a decision to change the lives of others for the better, he deserves to be called a hero. Greg Mortenson is such a person in my eyes. Greg saw his life change after making one promise to build a school in a remote village of Pakistan. He has shown me that with a dream and a promise, one man can change the world. After studying Greg’s work, I know he has made the world a better place.

Thirteen years ago, mountain climber Greg Mortenson, failed to reach the summit of the K2, the world’s second-highest peak along the Pakistan/ Afghanistan border. Weak and starving he stumbled into the poor village of Korphe. The people of the village took care of him and nursed him back to health. While he was healing in the village, he saw the children trying to teach themselves multiplication by writing in the crusty earth. They had no school and no teacher. Greg promised them he would return one day and build them a school.

Perseverance is what kept Greg going. When he returned to the US, he knew he had to keep his promise and find a way to make enough money to build a school for the children in Korphe. He had no idea where to begin. Greg wrote 580 letters asking for donations, and only received one check for $100. Finally he received a check that allowed him to return to Pakistan and attempt to get the materials and build the school. After returning to Pakistan, transporting the materials to the mountain village of Korphe proved to be a bigger task than raising the money. But because Greg persevered, he was able to get it done.

Greg taught me that by building relationships people come to trust. Greg Mortenson has written a book called Three Cups of Tea. In this book he tells how he built relationships with the elders of Korphe by sharing tea with them. In their culture everyone is invited to have tea at a first meeting. If you are offered a second cup of tea, you are considered a friend. If you are offered a third cup of tea, then you are considered family. Greg established the “family” connection with most of the people he met in Pakistan; therefore he gained their trust and became part of their community. This happened place after place as the villagers all welcomed him and trusted him to build schools for them.

The words, “I promise” will never be the same to me. Those words changed Greg’s life and gave it purpose. If I can take that lesson and keep it close to my own heart, I too can make a difference in peoples’ lives. My hero has given me a new goal; a goal that challenges me to look for what needs to be done and to build relationships along the way.

Page created on 12/18/2006 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 1/5/2017 4:31:59 PM

Related Links

Greg Mortenson Website - One man's mission to fight terrorism by building schools.
Central Asia Institute - To promote education and literacy programs in remote mountain regions in Central Asia.