Mortenson really pulled them in

May 14th, 2010 by Ken

Greg Mortenson, author of “Three Cups of Tea” and a finalist for the Nobel Peace Prize, filled several venues yesterday, as he made the rounds of the community, focusing on his efforts in Afghanistan to build schools.

More than 1000 attendees filled the Marcus Pavilion on the campus of St. Martin’s University, to hear his message of peace  and respect.  Some 600 children  rallied with him on the steps of the Capitol building in their “Pennies for Peace” program.

The halls of Olympia High School were crowded as student after student told the activist of their own community involvement with others.   And, some 250 Rotarians and guests heard Mortenson thank them for their efforts towards peace in the world.

He asked the participants to focus on the good things happening in Afghanistan.   At the height on the Taliban’s control of the country only 800,000 children were in school, all of them boys.  Now there are 9 million children in school, some 2,800,000 of them girls.

Mortenson said that world wide some 118 million children, including 78 million girls, are NOT in school.  He said the reasons vary but some aren’t in school because of religious extremism, some because they are working or married at a young age, and some because of corruption by government officials.

“Education of girls is important,” Mortenson said.  “It reduces population, it reduces infant mortality, and when you teach girls to read it leads  to better educational opporunities for their children.”

He said that the Taliban have burned or destroyed 2100 schools in Afghanistan, 90 percent of which are schools for girls.

Mortenson had good words to say about the military and their efforts in Afghanistan. “The military understands the situation on the ground,” he said.  “Many of them are on their third, fourth and even fifth tour of duty in that country.”

The military, Mortenson said, listens to the elders, they show proper respect and build relationships.  “But,” he said, “they’ll be the first to tell you there’s no military solution to the problems.”

He urged people to get involved to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan.  “A few dollars go a long way,” he said.  We need to get more financial help.  “Right now only 1/6th’s of 1 percent of the war budget goes to education.”

Education is the key to peace and stability in Afghanistan, he said.

Mortenson’s journey to Olympia was coordinated by the Olympia High School Interact Club, the Olympia Rotary Club and the seven other Rotary clubs in Thurston County.

Posted in Informational, The Real News

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