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Promisewatched and listened as the children sang Pakistan’s national anthem to start their school day. He saw Twaha’s seven-year-old daughter, Jahan, standing tall and straight beneath her headscarf as she sang. When the song ended, they sat down in the dirt and began writing out their multiplication tables. A few, like Jahan, had slates on which they wrote with sticks dipped in mud. The rest scratched in the dirt with sticks. “Can you imagine a fourth-grade class in America, alone, without a teacher, sitting there quietly and working on their lessons?” Greg asked later. “I felt like my heart was being torn out…. I knew I had to do something.”what could he do? He had barely enough money left to travel by jeep and bus to Pakistan’s capital, where he would catch an airplane to fly home. Still, there had to be something.next to Haji Ali, looking at the mountains that he’d come halfway around the world to climb, Greg suddenly felt that reaching the summit of K2 to place a necklace there wasn’t really important. He could do something much better than that to honor his sister, Christa. He put his hands on Haji Ali’s shoulders. “I will build a school,” he said. “I promise.”Cups of TeaReaders EditionMortenson and David Oliver Relinfor young readers byThomsonBOOKSBOOKSby the Penguin GroupYoung Readers Group, 345 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A.Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4P 2Y3 (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, EnglandIreland, 25 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd)Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd)Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi-110 017, IndiaGroup (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, North Shore 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd)Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South AfricaOffices: Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, Englandpublished in the United States of America by Puffin Books,division of Penguin Young Readers Group, 2009simultaneously by Dial, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, 2009© Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin, 2009&A copyright © Amira Mortenson, 2009copyright © Jane Goodall, 2009rights reservedOF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA IS AVAILABLEBooks ISBN: 1-101-01521-7for Peace™ is a trademark of Central Asia Institute.in the United States of America, this book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content.to the living memory ofEliana Mortenson and Haji Alithe hope that this book will help inspire people to all join together to promote peace, and honor every child in the world with the right and privilege to learn to read, write, and go to school as stated in Article 26 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights..unhchr.ch/udhr/lang/eng.htm

—G.M.Lloyd Henry Relin

—D.O.R.hope you enjoy the young readers edition of Three Cups of Tea and it inspires you to go out and make a difference in your city, town, country, or around the world. It has been incredibly exciting to work with Puffin to create the young readers edition, and to listen and respond to your requests to make it a better learning experience by adding maps, a glossary, Who’s Who, a time line, photos, and more.of all, thanks to all the dedicated teachers, workers, staff and dedicated communities and children in Pakistan and Afghanistan, who have given everything so that their children can learn to read and write and attend school.you to all the teachers all over the world, who dedicate their lives to education. You are our heroes, who constantly inspire, motivate, and give children the light of hope for the future.to librarians who promote literacy and books, and help guide us with access to knowledge and information.to David Oliver Relin, the coauthor of Three Cups of Tea, who worked hard for two years to get this story told. David’s wife, Dawn, an elementary school teacher, was also a source of inspiration for this book.you Sarah Thomson (and your two cats), who from a small room in Maine adapted and wrote the superb young readers edition (her twentieth book).to Paul Slovak, the Penguin editor of the adult version, who has been a constant source of support for Three Cups of Tea and who helped encourage it to be written in a young readers edition.you Eileen Kreit, publisher of Puffin, for your amazing energy and enthusiasm that never stops (“Go Girl!”), and for your extra interest and support because of your own children.special thanks to Jen Bonnell, senior editor at Puffin, who worked patiently day and night for months to help get the book down and was a source of encouragement to Amira to share with her fellow students the experiences and feelings she has being a part of the Three Cups of Tea family. You rock!also to the very dedicated people at the Penguin Young Readers Group, who helped with this book and also the Dial picture book, Listen to the Wind, including Deborah Kaplan, Lauri Hornik, Alisha Niehaus, Theresa Evangelista, Nick Vitiello, Teresa Kietlinski, and also Pat Shuldiner, who copyedited and proofed the book.you to Dr. Jane Goodall and the Roots & Shoots organization for the foreword, and for inspiring all of us to realize that all life is sacred, which we should cherish and protect.to the humanitarian workers in the world, who work hard to help bring education, health, and environmental conservation to make our home, planet Earth, a better place. We also thank the peacemakers, and people serving in the military around the world, who also dedicate their lives to peace. Your sacrifices are always appreciated, and you are in our thoughts.to my mother-in-law, Lila Bishop, and her late husband, Dr. Barry Bishop, who were both educators and instilled in us a love for geography and different cultures.you to all my cousins, extended family, and especially my sisters, Sonja Joy and Kari, brother-in-law Brent Bishop, and their spouses and children for blessing us with their love and strength of family.to my mother, Jerene Mortenson, a lifelong educator, and my late father, Dempsey. From the time we were babies, they read books to us every night in Africa and taught us how important a life of service and education is.and Khyber, my two dear children, you are the angels in my life. It is never easy to have a father gone up to half of the year, for most of your childhood. You have given up many precious times we could have shared together—to read, play, explore life, and snuggle—so that other children could have hope through education. Your love and courage are the shining stars of our lives., thanks to my wife, Tara Bishop. You are a saint and love of my life. You are the rock that gives me hope and for which there are no words better to say than “I love you.”

—Greg Mortensonby Dr. Jane Goodall1: Failure2: The Wrong Side of the River3: I’m Going to Build You a School4: Growing Up5: 580 Letters, One Check6: Hard Way Home7: Korphe at Last8: A Bridge Before a School9: Hunting Ibex10: Building Bridges11: Six Days12: Beginnings13: Haji Ali’s Lesson14: “A Smile Should Be More Than a Memory”15: A Picture16: New Schools—and More17: Running from War18: Too Much to Do19: A Village Called New York20: Afghanistan21: The First Educated Women in Korphe22: Stones into Schools&A with Amira MortensonLine’s Who in Three Cups of TeaGuide’s PhotosBY. Jane GoodallGoodall and Greg MortensonBishopCups of Tea is a fantastic book of adventure, courage, and determination. As you read it you will become increasingly amazed at how much one determined person can accomplish. It all began when Greg Mortenson lost his way up in the high mountains of Pakistan and was, just in time, rescued by his porter, Mouzafer. But Greg got lost again and wandered into a village. There, slowly, he recovered from the effects of exposure and got to know the people. He was horrified to find that there was no school. Imagine trying to learn from a teacher who comes only three days a week when you have no classroom and are sitting on the ground outside, often in freezing weather, and mostly without books and paper and pens. Greg made a promise that he would return and build a school.in America almost no one believed in him or his mission, but finally he returned to Pakistan with enough money to honor his promise. This book describes the challenges he faced. Few people would have carried on against such daunting odds, surrounded by danger. (Indeed, he was kidnapped once, for eight terrifying days.) And few would have agreed to building other schools when, finally, the first one was completed. No wonder Greg Mortensen is a legendary figure in the remote villages where he works. Again and again he has risked his life in order to help the villagers educate their children.more I learned about this extraordinary man, the more I wanted to meet him. But as my schedule is always so full, and booked months in advance, and as Greg is so often traveling, I thought it would be a long time before this could happen. It seems, however, that we were meant to get together. For it happened that, within two months of finishing Three Cups of Tea, I was scheduled to give a talk in Bozeman, Montana, where Greg and his family live. And I had a few free hours and Greg was at home. And so it was that I found myself sitting and enjoying a cup of tea with Greg and his family—his wife, Tara, and their children, Amira and Khyber. And what a wonderful meeting it was. We had so much to talk about, including the years he had spent in Tanzania, where my team and I have been studying chimpanzees since 1960. Soon it seemed as though we had known each other for years.is a very big man: not only is he tall, but he has a huge heart. He is also very warm and gentle. He is the sort of person I admire most. He has achieved, and is achieving, marvelous things in Pakistan and, more recently, in Afghanistan, enabling children—especially girls who otherwise would have no chance to get educated—to learn about the world outside their villages. And Greg (helped now by his organization, the Central Asia Institute) is not only providing schools, he has gained the trust—and the hearts—of the people. This contributes more to world peace than misguided attempts to change the world through violence and war. Yet Greg, who has accomplished so much, is modest and unassuming.spent some time talking about the Jane Goodall Institute’s youth program, Roots & Shoots (R&S). It is the perfect complement to the education provided for the children in the schools that Greg and his team are building, for it encourages young people, from preschool though university, to think about the problems around them, and then to take action to try to solve them. Members work to make this a better world for people, for animals, and for the environment. R&S began in Tanzania in 1991 and is now in nearly a hundred countries, and the nine thousand or so active groups are encouraged to make contact with one another, learn about one anothers’ cultures, and share their hopes, their dreams. The most important message of R&S is that each one of us makes a difference every day. We must stop polluting Mother Earth and using up her natural resources. We must show respect for all living things. And we must learn how to live in peace and harmony within our families and our communities, and break down the barriers that divide people of different nationalities, cultures, and religions, and that exist between us and nature.knew about Roots & Shoots, and plans to start a group in her school. She told me she loves and respects animals and wild places. She told me about the “Pennies for Peace™” project, now in nearly two thousand schools—it is a perfect activity for R&S groups everywhere. Amira is determined to do her part in making the world a better place. She will help to introduce R&S not only in Montana, but maybe also in Pakistan and Afghanistan—for often Greg takes his family with him, to share the work, the excitement…and the danger. And Amira is a born leader.cannot all travel to Pakistan. Few people could do what Greg has done. But we can all, every one of us, make a difference in the world, every day. You can plant a tree, recycle, collect trash, care for an animal in need, give a penny for peace. You can learn about the problems faced by children in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and then perhaps you can find ways to communicate with them, to help them. And they, in turn, can learn about your culture and your problems. When we truly understand about people and their lives in other countries, when we write and receive letters from them, when we become friends, then the world becomes a happier and a safer place.you, Greg, for opening so many minds and hearts, for your courage, your determination, and your indomitable spirit…. And for attempting a seemingly impossible task—and succeeding in a way you cannot have predicted in the beginning. Your schools provide not only education, but hope for the future—for the future of the people you and your family have come to understand and love. Hope for the future of the world. Every brick in every school represents another step toward a more peaceful world.Goodall, Ph.D., DBEof The Jane Goodall InstituteMessenger of Peace.janegoodall.org.rootsandshoots.orgsalaam alaikum! Peace be with you! This is how over 1.3 billion Muslims greet each other around the world.want to thank you for picking up the young readers edition of Three Cups of Tea. I hope that my story inspires you and that it’s fun to read and learn about children like you, who live in other countries and have different cultures, faiths, and traditions.and literacy are very important to me and my family. When I was growing up in Africa, my parents read bedtime stories to me and my sisters before we could even walk. It was our favorite time of day. Today, my wife, Tara, and I continue that tradition with our children, Amira and Khyber. We often go to the library with them to choose books.there are about 110 million children ages five to fifteen around the world who don’t have a chance to learn how to read and write or to go to school. They can’t get an education because of slavery, poverty, discrimination against girls, religious extremism, or corrupt governments. In India, some kids are forced to go out on the streets and beg for money. They’re punished and beaten if they don’t bring home enough at the end of the day. Some young people in Cambodia can’t go to school because they have to work on rice farms. In China, thousands of children work in sweatshops making fireworks that we set off on the Fourth of July. West African boys and girls who aren’t in school work on cocoa plantations, harvesting two million tons of cocoa that’s used to make chocolate. In Africa, Asia, and South America, there are tens of thousands of children who have never been to school and are forced to become soldiers and learn to kill at a very young age. In Pakistan, thousands of illiterate children work sewing soccer balls; and in Afghanistan, many kids are forced to work in dimly lit rooms making carpets. Only their small fingers can weave the tiny knots that make up the expensive high-thread-count carpets that Westerners like to buy. Yet also in Pakistan and Afghanistan, some of the twenty-eight thousand students who go to the schools built by the Central Asia Institute will do anything for the privilege of going to school. Many walk two to three hours a day just to get an education.child should have the right and privilege to have an education, as mandated in Article 26 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. It’s a big challenge to educate these children all over the world, but we should make it a top global priority. Ignorance breeds hatred, and the simplest way to stop that is to educate kids.believe that kids can make a difference, starting in your own schools and communities. One kid, and even just one penny, can help change the world. There are enough pennies in homes throughout the United States to be able to eliminate illiteracy completely throughout the world. If you want to do more, please check out the Pennies for PeaceTM program and Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots program. Through these programs, kids can learn how to help one another; promote peace; and make our communities, our countries, and our world better places.

—Greg Mortenson, January 20091Mortenson was lost.didn’t know it yet.was hiking down the Baltoro Glacier, a frozen river that flows along a mountain slope at a rate of four inches a day. His heavy black boots didn’t seem to be moving any faster than the ice beneath them. At any moment, he thought, he’d look up and see Scott Darsney, a fellow mountain climber, sitting on a rock, waiting and laughing at him for being so slow. But he didn’t realize that he had taken a wrong turn. He should have been walking west, toward a village where he hoped to hire a jeep driver to take him out of the mountains. In reality, he was now headed south, into a landscape that was a maze of shattered chunks of ice.and Darsney were part of an expedition that had set out three months before to reach the summit of a mountain called K2, part of the Karakoram Range in Pakistan. K2 is the second-highest mountain on Earth; only Mount Everest reaches farther into the clouds. Most mountain climbers consider it to be the toughest peak in the world. Its slopes are so steep that snow can’t cling to them. But Greg Mortenson knew what he was doing. He’d reached the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro by the age of eleven. He’d learned to climb in Yosemite National Park. He’d made it up mountains in the Himalayas before. He had no doubt that he’d reach the top of K2 with the amber necklace he carried in his pocket.had belonged to his sister, Christa, who’d died on her twenty-third birthday, in July 1992. Greg planned to leave the necklace on K2 in Christa’s honor. And he’d come close—within six hundred feet of the summit. But now he was headed back down the mountain, Christa’s necklace still in his pocket. Failure—not something he was used to—was on his mind.’s amber neckaceBishopMortenson (third from right in cap) with Scott Darsney (far right) before taking on K2Darsneyand Darsney had helped to rescue another member of their team, Etienne Fine. When Fine neared the summit of K2, he’d gotten extremely sick as fluid collected in his lungs, and tissues in his brain began to swell. This can happen to people at altitudes above what their bodies are used to. Along with the expedition’s leaders, Dan Mazur and Jonathan Pratt, Greg and Darsney had carried Fine down the mountain to where a helicopter could land and take him to a hospital. Mazur and Pratt had returned and managed to reach the summit of K2, but Greg and Darsney, already exhausted from a stressful climb earlier, had no strength left. Their only choice was to get down off the mountain as quickly as possible.human body doesn’t function well in the high altitude of mountains like K2. Because air pressure drops as a climber gets higher, each breath takes in less oxygen. Operating on less oxygen than usual, people get headaches and feel weak, nauseated, and exhausted. They don’t think clearly. Add in hard work and freezing temperatures, like those Greg had experienced on K2, and it’s easy to become seriously weakened. Tasks that were once simple for a climber like Greg Mortenson—such as walking with a backpack full of climbing and camping gear—become almost impossible.had already lost thirty pounds in his attempt to climb K2. As he and Darsney made their way down to one of the base camps, where climbers prepared for their attempts to reach the summit, they found it took them hours to cover three miles. As they struggled, Greg and Darsney met Mouzafer Ali and his friend Yakub, two porters who made a living guiding and helping mountain climbers. They offered to carry the climbers’ packs for four dollars a day. Greg and Darsney gladly agreed. Greg didn’t know it at the time, but Mouzafer was known as one of the most skilled porters in the area.now, alone and walking down the Baltoro Glacier, all Greg knew was that he’d lost sight of Mouzafer as well as his friend. And Mouzafer was carrying the pack that held most of Greg’s gear—his tent, his sleeping bag, his stove, his food, his flashlight, and his matches.sharp crack of a falling rock brought Greg’s attention back to his surroundings. A boulder the size of a three-story house suddenly bounced down a slope and crushed an iceberg in front of him.was getting dark, and Greg’s mind was fuzzy. He tried to think back to the last spot where he had glimpsed any sign of human beings. It had been hours since he’d seen Darsney. There were no signs that anyone had ever walked on the trail in front of him—no cigarette butts, no food tins, no droppings from the mules that were used to carry heavy loads. In fact, Greg realized, where he was walking didn’t look much like a trail at all.the sun set, Greg spent an hour clambering up a slope of loose rock, hoping to get a view that would help tell him where he was. He knew of a landmark on another mountain, and if he could find it, he might be able to get his bearings. But when he got to the top of the slope, all he saw were unfamiliar peaks in the fading light. He had wandered about eight miles from where he should have been.he had with him was a small, purple backpack that held a blanket, an empty water bottle, and a single protein bar.was scared, and all alone. He knew that spending the night on this spot, even without his gear, would be less dangerous than stumbling over a glacier in the dark. He would have to wait and search for the trail in daylight. He found a flat slab of rock and wrapped himself in his blanket. Then he filled his water bottle with snow, thawed his protein bar by holding it next to his skin, and ate it. Greg watched as the sun set behind the peaks that surrounded him, leaving him in darkness.2Wrong Side of the RiverGreg opened his eyes in the morning, he could barely breathe. He struggled to free his hands from the blanket wrapped around him and clawed at his face. Ice had frozen over his mouth and nose like a mask. He tore the ice free and was able at last to take a deep, satisfying breath.sat up and stretched. In the light before dawn, the mountain peaks were painted in sugary colors—pinks and purples and baby blues. The sky was clear, and there was no wind. Greg was still lost, still alone, and his hands were so stiff from the cold they were like claws. He couldn’t even open his water bottle, half full of melted snow. But he wasn’t worried. Morning made all the difference.was thinking more clearly, maybe because he’d managed to sleep a little. Now he could see that, if he walked for a few hours back the way he’d come, he would run into the trail he’d left. He set off north, stumbling over boulders and jumping over crevasses, deep cracks in the ice of the glacier. When he reached the top of a small crest, the sun finally rose over the walls of the valley around him.was stunned by the beauty of the peaks on every side. Gasherbrum, Broad Peak, Mitre Peak, Muztagh Tower—all these mountains, covered in ice, burned like bonfires in the raw light of the sun. Greg sat on a boulder and drank from his water bottle until it was empty. But he couldn’t drink in enough of the sight before him. He’d been in these mountains for months, but that morning, it was as if he’d never seen them before. “In a way, I never had,” he said later. “All summer, I’d looked at these mountains as goals, totally focused on the biggest one, K2…. But that morning, for the first time, I simply saw them. It was overwhelming.”stumbled on. Even though he knew he had no food and no warm clothing and wouldn’t survive if he didn’t find both soon, he wasn’t scared. He filled his water bottle from a melting trickle that ran from the glacier and winced from the cold as he drank. Food won’t be a problem for days, he told himself, but you must remember to drink.in the morning, he heard bells tinkling and realized that they were from a team of donkeys. The animals carried heavy loads to and from towns in the mountains. He tried to follow the bells but ran into a large rock wall that blocked the way. Greg realized that he’d gone too far. He must have walked over the trail without realizing it was there. Once again he turned and retraced his steps, this time looking down at the ground, not up at the breathtaking mountains. When he spotted a cigarette butt, then a pile of stones built to mark the trail, he realized he’d made it at last.he spotted something else—someone standing on a boulder, silhouetted against the sky. Greg yelled and the man turned toward him, then jumped down and disappeared from his sight. Greg didn’t have the strength to run, but he forced himself to trot toward the place where he’d seen the figure, yelling again and again. Finally he was close enough to see who the man was—Mouzafer, the porter he had hired to help carry his gear! Greg’s heavy backpack was still on Mouzafer’s back.

“Mr. Gireg, Mr. Gireg!” Mouzafer shouted, dropping the pack and wrapping Greg Mortenson in a bear hug. “Allah Akbhar! [God is great!] Blessings to Allah you’re alive!”let him go and began slapping him on the back in delight. Clouds of dust rose from Greg’s clothes, and he doubled over, coughing. “Cha, Mr. Gireg,” Mouzafer said, worried. “Cha will give you strength!”cha is a hot green tea, made with salt, baking soda, goat’s milk, and an aged, sour butter churned from yak’s milk. While it looks like chocolate milk, it doesn’t taste like it. The Balti, Mouzafer’s tribe who live in the high-altitude valleys in northern Pakistan, think of this butter as a delicacy. Greg, however, had smelled paiyu cha brewing many times and thought the odor was horrible. He describes it as “stinkier than the most frightening cheese the French ever invented.” He’d come up with many different excuses to avoid drinking it.lit a fire, brewed the tea, and stirred in the butter with a finger. Then he handed Greg a steaming mug. Greg gagged at the taste, but his body needed the hot liquid. He swallowed it. Mouzafer filled the mug two more times, and Greg drank it all.the next three days, until they were off the Baltoro Glacier, Mouzafer never let Greg out of his sight. He held his hand as they walked, or made Greg walk right behind him, his feet nearly touching the heels of Mouzafer’s shoes. The porter, a devout Muslim, prayed five times a day, but even during his prayers he would glance up to make sure that Greg was still nearby.tried to learn some of the Balti language that Mouzafer spoke. Glacier was gangs-zhing, avalanche was rdo-rut. And there were many words for rocks. Small round rocks were khodos. Brak-lep was flat rock, good for sleeping or cooking on. Khrok was a wedge-shaped rock, excellent for sealing up holes in stone houses. Greg was good at languages. Soon he could communicate a little in Balti.Greg stepped off ice and onto solid ground for the first time in three months. From under the glacier, water shot out into a gorge and created the quick-moving Braldu River. Greg knelt down to look closely at a five-petaled pink rosehip, the first flower he’d seen in over eighty days, since his attempt to climb K2 began. Then he and Mouzafer began to walk along the riverbank.that they were off the Baltoro Glacier, Mouzafer thought it was safe enough to hike ahead and set up camp each day. Greg, walking more slowly on his tired and aching legs, stopped often to rest; but he always followed the river until he saw the smoke from Mouzafer’s campfire in the evenings.days after leaving K2, Greg saw his first trees. The five poplars stood in a row, and so Greg knew they had been planted by people. He was back where human beings could live. The trees told Greg he’d made it down alive.at the poplars, Greg didn’t see that the trail he was following had a fork. One path led down to the river, where it would eventually reach a bridge. The bridge led to Askole, the village Greg was headed for. But by mistake he took the other path, walking toward the trees. For the second time, he’d lost his way.poplars led into apricot orchards. Piles of the ripe fruit were stacked on hundreds of flat baskets. There were women kneeling by the baskets, splitting the fruit and setting aside the pits. When they saw Greg, they pulled their shawls over their faces and ran to put the trees between themselves and the stranger.the children were not so shy. As Greg kept walking into the fields planted with buckwheat and barley, children came up to touch his clothes and took turns holding his hands. For the first time in a while, Greg thought about what he looked like. It had been about three months since he’d had a shower. His hair was long and dirty. He felt huge and filthy, and he stooped, trying not to tower over the children. But they didn’t seem to be scared of him. By the time Greg reached the entrance to the village, a wooden archway at the edge of a field, there were about fifty children following him.thought he must be approaching Askole. But he’d been through that village before, and nothing here looked familiar. He hoped to see Mouzafer waiting for him at the edge of the village, but instead, standing by the archway, was a wrinkled old man with a gray beard and a hat made of lambswool. His name was Haji Ali, and he was the chief of this village, named Korphe.

“As-salaam Alaikum [Peace be with you],” Haji Ali said, shaking Greg’s hand. He took Greg through the gate, showed him to an icy river where he could wash his face and hands, and welcomed the stranger into his home.Ali beat some of the dust from a pile of bedding, put down cushions at the spot of honor close to the hearth, and settled Greg there. Twenty male members of the chief’s family came in silently and took their places around the hearth. No one talked as a pot of tea was prepared over a fire of yak dung. Most of the smoke escaped through a square hole in the ceiling. When Greg looked up at the hole, he saw the eyes of the fifty children who had followed him into the village looking down at him. They lay on the roof, peering in at the first foreigner who had ever been to Korphe.Ali gave Greg a piece of dried meat he had rubbed with leaves of tobacco. Greg didn’t like the taste, but he knew it would be rude to refuse. He chewed bravely and choked it down. Then Haji Ali handed him a cup of the cha, which he drank with a little more pleasure.that Greg had been welcomed properly, as a guest should be, Haji Ali wanted to know what he was doing in Korphe. He leaned forward, thrust his bearded face in front of Greg’s, and demanded, in Balti, to know what had brought this stranger to his village.a few words of Balti and a lot of gestures, Greg told the crowd that he was an American, that he’d tried to climb K2, that he had become weak and sick, and that he’d walked here to Askole to find transport that could take him to a bigger city.

“Cheezaley! [What the heck!]” Haji Ali said in Balti. “Not Askole,” Haji Ali told Greg, laughing. He pointed at the ground by his feet. “Korphe.”was exhausted, but at these words he sat bolt upright, alarmed. He had never heard of Korphe, and never seen it on a map. He explained that he had to get to Askole to meet a man named Mouzafer, who was carrying most of his belongings.Ali pushed Greg back on the pillows. His son, Twaha, who spoke a little English, translated his father’s words. “Today walking Askole no go. Big problem. Half one day’s trekking. Inshallah [God willing], tomorrow Haji send man find Mouzafer. Now you sleep.”spite of his worry and his anger at himself for missing the trail again, Greg did lie back on the bed and fell deeply asleep.3’m Going to Build You a Schooltucked a heavy quilt over Greg. For the first time in months, he slept indoors. When he woke, he was alone, and blue sky showed through the square hole in the ceiling. Haji Ali’s wife, Sakina, brought him lassi, a drink made with yogurt; a flat bread called chapatti; and tea with lots of sugar. Greg wolfed everything down, and Sakina, laughing, brought him more. Greg didn’t know at the time how little sugar the Balti had and how precious they considered it. If he had, he would have said no to the second cup of sweet tea.left Greg alone, and he looked around the room. Everything from the blackened pots and pans to the oil lanterns looked plain and well used. But not the quilt Greg had slept under. It was made of maroon silk and decorated with tiny mirrors. All the other blankets in the room were thin, worn wool, patched with scraps. Greg realized that his hosts had covered him up with the most valuable thing they owned.spent the day in Korphe. Late that afternoon, he heard voices calling. He and most of the rest of the village walked to a cliff that overlooked the Braldu River. There he saw someone crossing the river—but not on a bridge. A wooden box hung from a steel cable that had been strung above the water. A person could sit in the box and pull him-or herself along the cable. Crossing the river this way saved the half day of travel needed to walk to the nearest bridge. But it didn’t look terribly safe—and a fall would mean certain death.the person was halfway across, Greg recognized him—it was Mouzafer, sitting on top of Greg’s pack. Once Mouzafer reached the other side, he again slapped Greg on the back, looked him up and down, and shouted, “Allah Akbhar!”a meal of roasted chicken at Haji Ali’s house, Mouzafer and Greg left Korphe. They met up with Scott Darsney, and the two climbers made the long journey by jeep down to the city of Skardu. But Greg felt something tugging him back to Korphe and returned as soon as he could arrange for a ride. He stayed in Haji Ali’s house and rested, recovering his strength. Now that he was out of danger, Greg realized just how weakened he had become. He would walk around the village for a few hours each day, with children holding his hands, and then return to Haji Ali’s to sleep or simply lie down, staring at the sky.Greg slowly got better, he learned more and more about how people lived in this part of Pakistan, called Baltistan. The village of Korphe was perched on a rocky mountain slope, and the people there worked amazingly hard to grow the food they ate—apricots, barley, potatoes—and to take care of the animals they raised. Greg found out that the nearest doctor lived a week’s walk away, and that many of the people in Korphe had diseases that would be easily cured in the United States. Most of the children did not get quite enough to eat and suffered from malnutrition. One out of three children died before the age of one.knew he owed the people of Korphe more than he could repay. But he was determined to try. He began giving away the things he had brought with him. Small, useful items like Nalgene water bottles or flashlights were precious to the Balti. He gave Sakina, Haji Ali’s wife, his camping stove. He handed Twaha, the chief’s son, his fleece jacket, even though it was several sizes too big. To Haji Ali he gave the parka that had kept him warm on K2.it turned out that the best thing he had to offer the people of Korphe was his knowledge. In the United States, Greg worked as an emergency room nurse, and he had a medical kit with him. He began to go from house to house, doing what he could to cure injuries and illnesses with simple tools—antibiotic ointment to keep wounds from getting infected, painkillers to ease suffering. People in and around Korphe began to call him “Dr. Greg,” no matter how many times he explained that he was really a nurse.wanted to do more. While he was spending time with the children of Korphe, he felt like his little sister, Christa, was there, too. “Everything about their life was a struggle,” Greg says. “They reminded me of the way Christa…had a way of just persevering, no matter what life threw at her.” Maybe, he thought, he could get some textbooks or supplies for Korphe’s school. He asked Haji Ali if he could see where the children of Korphe went to learn. Haji Ali seemed reluctant, but finally agreed to take Greg there the next morning.breakfast, Haji Ali led Greg up a steep path to an open piece of land. Seventy-eight boys and four girls were kneeling on the frosty ground to study. Haji Ali explained that Korphe had no school building. A teacher cost one dollar a day, which was more than the village could afford to pay. They shared a teacher with a nearby village, and he came to Korphe three days a week. The rest of the time the students were left alone to practice the lessons he had left behind.watched and listened as the children sang Pakistan’s national anthem to start their school day. He saw Twaha’s seven-year-old daughter, Jahan, standing tall and straight beneath her headscarf as she sang. When the song ended, they sat down in the dirt and began writing out their multiplication tables. A few, like Jahan, had slates on which they wrote with sticks dipped in mud. The rest scratched in the dirt with sticks. “Can you imagine a fourth-grade class in America, alone, without a teacher, sitting there quietly and working on their lessons?” Greg asked later. “I felt like my heart was being torn out…. I knew I had to do something.”what could he do? He had barely enough money left to travel by jeep and bus to Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital, where he would catch an airplane to fly home. Still, there had to be something.with children from KorpheOliver Relinnext to Haji Ai, looking at the mountains that he’d come halfway around the world to climb, Greg suddenly felt that reaching the summit of K2 to place a necklace there wasn’t really important. He could do something much better than that to honor his sister, Christa. He put his hands on Haji Ali’s shoulders. “I will build a school,” he said. “I promise.”4UpMortenson was born in Minnesota, like his father before him. But in 1958, when he was only three months old, his parents took him along on the great adventure of their lives: working as teachers in a girls’ school in the African country of Tanganyika, later renamed Tanzania. It was Greg’s father, Irvin, nicknamed Dempsey after a famous boxer, who had the idea. “Dempsey had the travel bug,” his wife, Jerene, said. “He loved seeing more of the world. He came home one day while I was pregnant with Greg and said, ‘They need teachers in Tanganyika. Let’s go to Africa.’ I couldn’t say no. We just did it.”four years of working in the Usambara Mountains, the family moved to a city called Moshi, near Mount Kilimanjaro. There, in a cinder-block house with a big pepper tree in the front yard, Greg Mortenson grew up. “The older I get, the more I appreciate my childhood. It was paradise,” he said.worked hard to set up the first teaching hospital in Tanzania, a place to help people and train doctors. It was called the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre. Jerene worked just as hard to start Moshi International School, where Greg went along with children from countries all over the world. “It was like a little United Nations,” Greg said. “There were twenty-eight different nationalities, and we celebrated all of the holidays: Hanukkah, Christmas, Diwali, the Feast of Id.”Mortensons in Tanzania, with foster son Mathias Moshi; 1967of the Mortenson familylearned to speak Swahili perfectly and joined an African dance troupe. At the age of eleven he climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain (19,340 feet). Greg admitted that, after nagging his father to take him, he hated the climb. But once he got to the top, he felt differently. “Standing on the summit at dawn, seeing the sweep of the African savannah below me, hooked me on climbing,” he remembered.had three sisters: Kari, Sonja Joy, and Christa, the youngest, born when Greg was twelve. When Christa was baptized, Greg was her godfather.was small and delicate. As a toddler she had a very bad reaction to a shot of smallpox vaccine, and when she was three she became sick with meningitis, a serious illness that can cause headaches, vomiting, and a high fever. Jerene believed that Christa was never the same after the vaccination and the illness. By the time Christa was eight, she began to have seizures and was diagnosed with epilepsy.struggled to do simple things that her brother and sisters had learned easily. It took her more than an hour to put on her clothes. She learned to read quickly, but did not understand the meanings of the words on the page—to her, they were just sounds. Greg became her protector, helping her and shielding her from anyone who teased her. “Christa was the nicest of us,” he said. “It would take her forever to dress herself in the morning, so she’d lay her clothes out the night before, trying not to take up so much of our time before school. She was remarkably sensitive to other people.”after Greg’s fourteenth birthday, the hospital his father had worked so hard to create was ready to open. One of the most important things about the hospital, for Dempsey, was making sure that local Tanzanian students would have a chance to train there and become doctors. He didn’t want the hospital to be managed by foreigners; he wanted the Tanzanians to run it themselves.threw a huge barbecue to celebrate the opening of the hospital and gave a speech. “I have a prediction to make,” he said in Swahili. “In ten years, the head of every department at the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center will be a Tanzanian. It’s your hospital. It’s your country.”

“I could feel the swell of pride from the Africans,” Greg remembered. “He was saying, ‘Look what you’ve done for yourselves and how much more you can do.’…Watching him up there, I felt so proud that this big, barrel-chested man was my father. He taught me, he taught all of us, that if you believe in yourself, you can accomplish anything.”the hospital and the school finished, the Mortensons decided that it was time to return to the United States. They packed up all their books and weavings and wood carvings and moved back to St. Paul, Minnesota.children knew the United States only from brief visits and letters from relatives. But when Greg started high school, he was relieved to see that many of the students were black. It made him feel that he was not so far away from Moshi. But after word spread around school that the tall new kid was from Africa, a basketball player shoved Greg up against a water fountain and looked him over. “You ain’t no African,” he sneered, and led his friends in beating up the white boy who could speak Swahili.the bad start, in most ways Greg was able to settle in. He made good grades and did well as a defensive lineman on the football team. But he did have one habit from his years in Africa that didn’t help him fit into life in the United States. “Greg has never been on time in his life,” his mother said. “Ever since he was a boy, Greg has always operated on African time.” In Africa, many people have a more relaxed attitude toward time than is common in the United States. What an African would consider on time, an American would probably think of as late. Greg never adjusted to the kind of scheduled life that most Americans think of as normal.Mortenson family did not have enough money to pay for college, so Greg enlisted in the U.S. Army for two years. After that, the government would provide the money to send him to college under the terms of the GI Bill. Four days after his graduation from high school, Greg was in basic training. He was trained as a medic and then served in Germany, where he seized the chance to travel around Europe: Rome, London, Amsterdam.his time in the army was over, Greg chose to go to Concordia College, in Minnesota, where he played football. Two years later, he transferred to the larger University of South Dakota. He washed dishes and worked as an orderly in a hospital to make money, sending some of his wages home to his parents each month.Greg was studying chemistry and nursing in college, his father became very ill with cancer. Greg offered to drop out of school to take care of his father, but Dempsey told him, “Don’t you dare.” So Greg made a six-hour drive home to Minnesota every other weekend to spend time with his father, carrying him outside so he could sit in a lawn chair in the sun.died in September 1981, when his son was twenty-three. At the funeral, Greg gave a speech and spoke in Swahili, calling his father “Baba, kaka, ndugu [father, brother, friend].”losing his father, Greg began to worry about losing Christa, who was having more and more seizures. After he had graduated from the University of South Dakota with a degree in both nursing and chemistry, Greg returned to St. Paul to spend a year with his younger sister. He helped her find a job in a factory, rode buses with her around the city until she felt confident that she could find her way herself, and gave her advice about dating. Christa’s needs were also on his mind when he thought about what he wanted to do with his life. He went back to college and chose to study the human body’s nervous system at Indiana University, hoping that he might come up with something that could help Christa with her seizures. But the kind of medical research needed to cure diseases like epilepsy moves slowly—too slowly for Greg. He began to feel that what he needed was a different kind of life, one where he could spend his time outdoors, not cooped up in classrooms and labs. He wanted to climb mountains.just a few thousand dollars in his savings account, Greg packed up his car and headed out to California. He got a job as an emergency room nurse, and, when he wasn’t at the hospital, he was working out in a climbing gym, running marathons, reading books about famous climbers, or hiking and climbing on a mountain.July 24, 1992, when Greg was thirty-four, he fell nearly eight hundred vertical feet while climbing a mountain. He was lucky; he had only put his shoulder out of joint and broken a bone in his arm. When he got to an emergency room and called his mother to let her know he would be all right, she had terrible news. Christa and her mom had planned to go to the Field of Dreams in Dyersville, Iowa, for Christa’s twenty-third birthday. Field of Dreams was her favorite movie, and she had wanted to see the place where it was filmed. But at the same time that Greg was falling down the mountain, his mother went to wake Christa for their trip, and found that she’d died of a seizure.Christa’s death, Greg wasn’t sure what to do with himself. A call from a fellow mountain climber, Dan Mazur, helped him decide. Mazur was putting together an expedition to K2. He asked Greg to come. Greg knew this was the way he wanted to honor his sister’s memory—by making it to the peak of K2 in her honor.Greg hadn’t reached the summit of K2. And now in the fall of 1993, back home from Pakistan, Greg had a new challenge ahead of him. He packed his climbing gear away in a rented storage space and tried to figure out how he was going to accomplish his new goal: raising enough money to build a school in Korphe. How could he convince Americans to care about a circle of children sitting in the cold on the other side of the world, scratching their lessons in the dirt with sticks? This might be even harder than climbing the second-highest mountain on Earth.5

Letters, One Checkknew how to climb a mountain. He knew how to handle a badly hurt patient in the emergency room. But he didn’t really know how to raise money for a school. He couldn’t even use a computer, so he rented a typewriter and slowly tapped out letters to anyone he could think of who had money and might want to help. He wrote to sports heroes like Michael Jordan, talk-show hosts like Oprah Winfrey, news anchors, politicians, and movie stars like Susan Sarandon. Time after time he made mistakes on the typewriter. His hands felt almost too big for the keyboard. So he would yank the paper out of the typewriter, crumple it up, and start over.started moving a little faster when Greg went to the store where he usually rented a typewriter and found it closed. He tried another store down the block. The owner told him, “This is 1993, why don’t you rent a computer?” When Greg explained that he didn’t know how to use one and told the man what he needed the typewriter for, the man decided to help. His name was Kishwar Syed, and he was from Pakistan. “My village in Pakistan had no school, so the importance of what Greg was trying to do was very dear to me,” he said. “His cause was so great that it was my duty to devote myself to help him.” He sat Greg down in front of a computer and gave him lessons in how to use it. Greg realized that the letters he had been pecking out so slowly on the typewriter could now be done in one day. With Syed’s help he sent out 580 letters.he was waiting for a response from his letters, Greg heard from his mother. She was now the principal of Westside Elementary School in River Falls, Wisconsin, and she asked her son to come to the school and talk to the students about the children of Korphe and what he was trying to do for them. “It was hard to explain to adults why I wanted to help students in Pakistan,” Greg said. “But the kids got it right away. When they saw the pictures, they couldn’t believe that there was a place where children sat outside in cold weather and tried to hold classes without teachers. They decided to do something about it.”students started a “Pennies for Pakistan” drive and collected 62,345 pennies. They sent Greg a check for $623.45. “Children took the first step to build the school,” he said. “And they did it with something that’s basically worthless in our society—pennies. But…pennies can move mountains.” Maybe now, Greg thought, his luck would change.Greg’s luck wasn’t changing as much as he’d hoped. Apart from the check from the students at his mother’s school, he got only one other donation in response to his 580 letters. Tom Brokaw, a television news anchor who, like Greg, had attended the University of South Dakota, sent a check for one hundred dollars. Greg was far short of the twelve thousand dollars he’d figured he’d need to build the school.was living as cheaply as possible, saving all his money for the school and the trip he hoped to make back to Korphe. Instead of renting an apartment, he kept everything he owned in a small storage space. He slept in his car, wrapped in the sleeping bag that had kept him warm on K2. And he kept thinking of what he could do to make the school happen. When he talked about his project to a friend, Dr. Tom Vaughan, at the hospital where he worked, Vaughan had an idea. He was also a mountain climber, and he wrote an article about Greg’s attempt to climb K2 and his efforts to help the children of Korphe. He published the article in a newsletter put out by the American Himalayan Foundation (AHF), a nonprofit group that works to help the people of the Himalayas. Many readers of the newsletter were mountain climbers. Maybe they would be interested in another climber’s project to help the children of Pakistan.turned out that one of them was.Hoerni was a mountain climber and a scientist who had created a new kind of process to store information on computer chips. He was brilliant, he was hard to get along with, and by now he had become very rich. He had read Tom Vaughan’s article in the newsletter and, through Vaughan, contacted Greg. Greg called him back.

“So. What, exactly, will your school cost?” Hoerni barked at Greg over the phone.

“I met with an architect and a contractor in Skardu, and priced out all the materials,” Greg said. “I want it to have five rooms, four for classes and one common room for—”

“A number!” Hoerni snapped.

“Twelve thousand dollars,” Greg said nervously, “but whatever you’d like to contribute toward—”

“Is that all?” Hoerni demanded. “You can really build your school for twelve grand?”week later a check for twelve thousand dollars arrived in Greg’s post office box. With it was a single note, scribbled on a sheet of graph paper. It said, “Don’t screw up. Regards, J.H.”had the money for his school.he still needed more money to get himself to Pakistan. He sold his books on climbing and some other old, rare books that had belonged to his father. He sold his climbing gear. And finally he sold his car. Having sold nearly everything he owned, he then set off toward the taxi waiting to take him to the airport, where he would catch a flight to Pakistan.6Way Homethe city of Rawalpindi, Greg got the cheapest room possible at the same hotel in which he had stayed when preparing to climb K2. Before heading off to Korphe, he’d need to get everything necessary to build a school.Shah, a watchman at the hotel, remembered Greg from his last visit and greeted him when he woke up on his first day. “Mr. Greg, Sahib,” he inquired, “may I ask why you are coming back?”

“I’ve come to build a school, Inshallah,” Greg answered. He told Abdul the story of his attempt to climb K2 and what the people of Korphe had done for him.looked doubtfully at Greg, who was wearing worn-out tennis shoes and a shabby, dirty shalwar kamiz, the long shirt and baggy pants that are traditional clothes in Pakistan. “You are the rich man?” he asked.

“No,” Greg said. He explained that many people in America, even children, had given what money they could afford to build the school. He showed Abdul the green nylon sack, stuffed with hundred-dollar bills, that he carried beneath his clothes. “This is exactly enough for one school, if I’m very careful,” he said.got to his feet. “By the merciful light of Allah Almighty, tomorrow we make much bargain. We must bargain very well,” he said.the next few days, Abdul helped Greg buy everything he needed: lumber, cement, nails, hammers, saws, axes, shovels, sheets of tin for the roof. When owners of stores asked for high prices, Abdul argued with them, told them that the supplies were for a school being built as an act of charity, and bargained them down to what Greg could afford. It sometimes took hours of conversation, over many cups of tea. He even brought Greg to a tailor to get two new sets of shalwar kamiz when the old shirt he was wearing ripped from collar to hem. The tailor took Greg in hand as well. When Greg asked about Islam, he taught him to pray in the traditional way, facing Mecca, where the body of the prophet, Mohammed, rests., with Abdul’s help, Greg had what he needed. He was ready for his three-day trip to Korphe.dawn the next morning, Abdul woke Greg and handed him his tennis shoes. He’d spent hours while Greg slept scrubbing, mending, and polishing the worn sneakers so that Greg could look his best. Together, they went to the bazaar where all the supplies Greg had bought would be packed onto a truck, ready to drive to Korphe. It took all day to get everything loaded. A crowd gathered to see this astonishing sight—a tall foreign man in a new shalwar kamiz that was already dirty and dusty, collecting supplies for a school for Pakistani children.says evening prayersRauch © 1995watched every item be loaded onto the truck, checking them against a list. Two of the most important items—a level and a plumb line, which would be needed to make sure the walls were straight and the floors were level—were missing. Abdul helped Greg hunt for them, and once the tools were found at the bottom of the load, he wrapped them carefully in a cloth and gave them to the driver, with orders to keep them safe., all forty-two lines on the list had been marked off. Greg said good-bye to Abdul. His new friend said a prayer for his safe journey, and Greg climbed onto the truck and waved good-bye. “Allah Akbhar!” the crowd shouted as the truck drove off for Korphe, and Greg continued to wave good-bye.perched on top of his load of school supplies for much of the drive out of Rawalpindi and into the mountains. Making himself comfortable on a nest of burlap and bags of hay, he settled down with a crate of chickens for company. After a week of haggling over prices and fretting over every penny, he felt like he could finally relax. “It was cool and windy on top of that truck,” he remembered. “And I hadn’t been cool since I arrived in Rawalpindi. I felt like a king, riding high on my throne. I felt like I’d already succeeded. I’d bought everything we needed and stuck to my budget…. And in a few weeks, I thought, the school would be built, and I could head home and figure out what to do with the rest of my life. I don’t know if I’ve ever felt so satisfied.”the road began to rise into the mountains, it got steadily colder. Greg wrapped a wool blanket around his shoulders and head. Sometimes the wheels spun only a foot away from a deadly drop into a deep gorge. Greg could look down from his perch and see just how close the tires were from the edge of the road. At other times the road was so steep that the driver’s assistants had to leap out and wedge rocks behind the truck’s wheels to keep it from slipping backward. Then the truck would struggle forward a few feet, and they would snatch up the rocks and shove them beneath the wheels again, inching their way up the slope.three days of hair-raising travel, with Greg riding on the top of the load most of the way, they were drawing close to the city of Skardu. From there, Greg would need to hire jeeps to carry the supplies the rest of the way to Korphe. He was getting so close to finishing the school. His happy ending, he felt sure, was just about to begin.was right before a branch of a poplar tree smacked him in the face. Another one tore the blanket off his head. Greg had to throw himself facedown on top of his supplies as the truck rolled down a tree-lined street and into Skardu.told the truck driver to take the truck’s contents to the office of Mohammed Ali Changazi. Changazi made a living organizing tours and mountain-climbing expeditions, getting people the supplies and workers they needed. He had helped with Greg’s expedition to K2. Afterward Greg had told him about his plans to build a school. Changazi, thought Greg, would know how to get his supplies to Korphe., dressed in a dazzling white shalwar, opened the door himself and greeted Greg with a hug. “Dr. Greg,” he said. “What are you doing here? Trekking season is over.”

“I brought the school!” Greg said. He expected Changazi to be pleased, but the man seemed baffled.

“It’s too late to build anything now. And why didn’t you buy supplies in Skardu?” he asked. Still, he agreed to let Greg unload the truck and store the supplies in his courtyard. Then they could have tea and discuss the school. He looked at Greg’s greasy shalwar and at his grimy face and matted hair, filthy from riding for three days on top of the truck. “But why don’t you have a wash first, and such like that,” he suggested.cleaned up and slept in Changazi’s office. The next morning, he was eager to start for Korphe. But first he ran into a visitor—Akhmalu, the man who had cooked for his K2 expedition. The man reminded Greg of a promise he’d made to visit Akhmalu’s village, Khane. “I have one jeep waiting to go to Khane village,” he said. “We go now.”

“Maybe tomorrow, or the next day,” Greg said, looking around for his school supplies in the courtyard outside. He didn’t see them.

“But my whole village will expect you, sir,” said Akhmalu. “We have prepare special dinner already.”knew that the Balti people did not have much food to spare, and he couldn’t bear the idea of making them waste a special meal. He agreed to go. Changazi came along as well, though he didn’t seem happy about it.Khane, Greg was welcomed into the home of another old acquaintance, Janjungpa, a porter from his expedition to K2. As Greg settled down to a meal of fried chicken, turnip salad, and sheep liver and brains, this man began to speak. “I wish to thank Mr. Girek Mortenson for honoring us and coming to build a school for Khane village,” he said.

“A school for Khane?” Greg croaked, almost choking on a bite of chicken.argument broke out among the people of Khane about whether Greg had promised to build a school for the children of Khane or a school for the Balti porters where they could learn better techniques of mountain climbing. Greg protested over and over that he hadn’t promised to do either of these things, but nobody was listening., Akhmalu led Greg to his own home, where Greg stayed the night. The next morning Greg insisted that Changazi get him back to Skardu before the arguments could begin all over again. Changazi agreed, and promised to take Greg to the place where the supplies for the school were stored. But, instead, Greg found himself a guest in Changazi’s home village, Kuardu. Once again, there was a huge feast spread for him: chicken, radishes and turnips, a rice dish with nuts and raisins, a yak stew. Greg had never seen so much food in one place in Baltistan.

“What are we doing here, Changazi?” he asked. “Where are my supplies?”

“These are the elders of my village,” Changazi said, gesturing to several men who had joined them for the meal. “Here in Kuardu, I can promise you no arguments. They have already agreed to see that your school is built in our village before winter.”was so angry that he got up, stepped over the food arranged on the floor, even though he knew how rude this would seem, and hurried out of the room. Outside, he ran up a steep shepherd’s path until he reached a little clearing, and there he collapsed and cried as he hadn’t cried since Christa’s death.could he get a school built if he couldn’t even get his supplies out of Skardu? Worse yet, he was starting to have doubts about the people of Korphe. Could they really be as good, as kind, as generous as he remembered them? Had he just been so happy to get down alive from K2 that everything in Korphe had seemed wonderful? Maybe all the people there were like Changazi and the other men who were trying to get his school for their own villages—dishonest, greedy, always arguing.Greg finally stopped crying, he looked up to see several children. They had brought a herd of goats to graze, but now they were watching the sobbing foreigner. He got up, brushed off his clothes, walked over to them, and knelt down by the oldest, a boy of about eleven.

“What…are…you?” the boy said shyly, in English, reaching out to shake the stranger’s hand.

“I am Greg. I am good,” Greg answered, grasping the boy’s small hand in his large one.

“I am Greg. I am good,” all of the children repeated.

“No, I am Greg. What is your name?” he tried again.

“No, I am Greg. What is your name?” the children echoed, giggling.switched to Balti, telling them that his name was Greg and that he came from America. He asked what their names were. They clapped, thrilled to understand him, and they each shook his hand as they told him their names. The girls wrapped their hands cautiously in their headscarves before touching the strange American. Greg taught them the word for foreigner, Angrezi. He taught them English words for nose, hair, ears, eyes, mouth. Half an hour later, when Changazi found him, Greg was kneeling, drawing multiplication tables in the dirt with a stick for the children to copy.

“Dr. Greg. Come down. Come inside. Have some tea. We have much to discuss,” Changazi pleaded.

“We have nothing to discuss until you take me to Korphe,” Greg said.

“Korphe is very far. And very dirty. You like these children. Why don’t you build your school right here?” Changazi asked.

“No,” said Greg. He rubbed out the numbers a nine-year-old girl had written in the dirt and corrected them. “Six times six is thirty-six.”

“Greg, Sahib, please.”

“Korphe,” Mortenson said. “I have nothing to say to you until then.”7at Lastthe eight-hour drive to Korphe, Greg had plenty of time to think. Maybe he’d been too harsh, too angry, with Changazi and the other men who’d tried to scheme and plot to get the school he’d been planning to build for Korphe. Greg was a man without a house to live in, without a car to drive, and with hardly any money in the bank—but maybe, in Baltistan, a poor section of a poor country, anyone from the United States seemed so rich that people imagined he could give them everything. If the people of Korphe started to argue or fight over what he could do for them, or tried to get him to help some of the villagers and not others, Greg would be more patient, he decided. He would listen to everyone, eat as many m

Date: 2015-02-03; view: 1051

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