This is the very heart-warming story of a mountain climber who made it nearly to the top of K-2 and in an abrupt turn, became obsessed with building schools in the region, told by a journalist who by his own account lost his ability to tell the story objectively and instead writes to support the mission. A recommendation from Annette when she heard about the Rory Stewart book, The Places in Between.
In 1993 Greg Mortenson lost his way as he was descending K-2 and was taken in by the villagers of Korphe. He was struck by how little they had and how kind they were, so promised to return and build a school for the children. He returned to California and while working as a nurse and living in his car, wrote hundreds of letters asking for money for the project. A connection with the mountaineering community eventually paid off and he was able to return to Pakistan with money. Of course this did not happen easily — it turned out building a bridge was necessary first. But in the years since then, he has built many schools and after the fall of the Taliban, has widened his scope to Afghanistan. He has been the subject of two fatwas, which were lifted by higher authorities, and worked with mullahs able to greatly improve the civic lives of people. His success in the very conservative region in Pakistan has been due in part to the emphasis of educating without political or religious indoctrination. He emphasizes the importance of education for girls, and though this is counter to our view of Islamic practice, he has been largely successful in this work.