Thursday, 3 September 2009

Promoting Peace with Schools, Books: Greg Mortenson

Monday 31 august 2009 was a fortunate day for me because I met a living legend Greg Motensson whose worked marked a sign of peace in Pakistan with a different angle. Q&A session from 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm organised by SLiCE was the kick off and contrary to my belief he was so humble after doing all the remarkable work in Pakistan and Afghanistan, at least I am surprised (pleasantly). Those who are still thinking who is this guy; he is the author of “Three Cups of Tea”. If you still do not know who he is, just go and do the Wikipedia.
Before going to my point which is a question to me here are the main points of what he said at the Montfort lecture.

  • He is a very shy guy and grew up in a mixed culture in East Africa.
  • In Islam education is necessary for both males and females.
  • The first word revealed on the Prophet (SAW) was “Iqra”, which means Read.
  • Whenever you go and meet with a person from different culture, always have a smile on your face, meet with humility.
  • Listen more than speak.
  • Educate females especially because if you educate one male you are education one individual but if you are educating one female then you are educating one community (African Proverb)
  • In Kunar Province in Afghanistan, people told him while pointing towards stones in the mountains that each stone represents those martyrs who fought against Russians, Talibans and other invaders but it’s now time to get rewards of those sacrifices by changing these stones into schools. His next book titles “Stones into Schools”.
  • Another interesting story he told us that when the book was first published the publisher insisted on the bottom statement that it should be “One man’s mission to fight terrorism one school at a time”. After discussing with others when he got the answer that publisher is right he told the publisher that if hard copy did not do well we’ll change it to “One Man’s mission to promote peace . . . One school at a time”. Hard copy did not do well and as promised the soft cover came out with the change title and it became number one seller. The next book’s title is “Stones into Schools: Promotes Peace with books not bombs in Afghanistan and Pakistan”.
  • Last but not the least he told the audience then he asked me and I endorsed him that in the Pashutns area which NWFP women takes whole burqa from head to toe when they are out of the house which in the western median consider to be suppression but in their homes they have good decision power, which means that they are not suppressed. I am glad he talked about it.

I agreed with him 99 percent but I have one issue which I asked him as well but his answer was female education and I did not agree with him. May be I’ll agree with him after some years. He told us that in Bangladesh female literacy has been three fold since 1971 and this is one of the main factors in reducing population growth rate. I asked him why it is not true then in Sri Lanka where the literacy rate in close to 100 percent. Moreover, in a male dominating society like Pakistan where males ask problems from a local “Moulvi” who is not a learned man and do not want females to go to schools. In this kind of society how do we promote female education? For example Talibans were so much against female education that they demolish 650 schools and 90 percent among those were female schools. My Question is how can we change the mindset; Greg Mortensson insisted that the answer lies in the female education but how…?