Kuwait fundraising event collects money to build 60 schools and teach 20,000 students in Pakistan and Afghanistan

March 21, 2010

Kuwaiti Embassy Washington

Around $2.1 million raised by the Kuwaiti embassy in Washington will help build

60 schools and educate 20,000 people in Pakistan and Afghanistan, an activist has said.

The amount, collected by the embassy at its annual gala “Journey for Peace” held last week in cooperation with the Kuwait-America Foundation will be used by the Central Asia Institute to build schools, mainly for girls, in the remote regions of the two countries, Kuwait News Agency said.

It was the largest contribution given to the institution in the past 17 years, Greg Mortenson, founder and Executive Director of Central Asia Institute, was quoted as saying.

Mortenson, the author of the bestseller “Three Cups of Tea”, has helped build over 135 educational institutions for over 38,000 children in Central Asia.

“It is very important that we have schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan and that we have reading, writing, arithmetic, social studies and five languages, including Arabic and English,” he said.

“We teach the children how to read, write and understand Arabic so the children can then read the Holy Koran which states that all people should have a quest for knowledge,” said Mortenson, a 2009 Nobel Peace Prize nominee.

Efforts to expand access to education in Pakistan and Afghanistan have been paying off, he said.

“In 2000, there were 800,000 children in school, mostly boys. But today, in 2010 there are 8.4 million children in school, including 2.5 million females.”
“We can drop bombs, we can put in troops, we can put in electricity, we can put in roads, we can put in computers, but if we do not educate girls, nothing changes in a society,” he said, according to KUNA.

Explaining the title of his book “Three Cups of Tea” which was on the New York Times Bestseller for 126 weeks, Mortenson said that he took it from a village leader.

“An old village chief in Pakistan who died in 2001 told me if you want to succeed here you need three cups of tea; the first cup you are a stranger, the second cup a friend and third cup your are family,” he said.

“You have to build relationships first in these cultures. You do not just go and talk business. You have to build the relationships and the trust. If you do not have that, I say everything else is worthless.”

Mortenson said that “Three Cups of Tea” is “mandatory reading” for all US senior military commanders and all troops going to Afghanistan.

“Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen told me that there are three important lessons from this book that we should tell our soldiers. We need to listen more, we need to have respect as we are there to serve the people and number three we have to build relationships,” he said.

“Whenever I asked women in those countries ‘What do you want? I want to serve you, so tell me what you want?’ you would think they would say a good husband or a big house. However, nearly all the women tell me ‘two things: We do not want our babies to die and we want our children to go to school.’ My mission is to help answer their needs,” said the philanthropist.

According to Mortenson, the education of girls a ‘force multiplier’.

“If you educate a boy you educate an individual, but educating a girl it educates a community and a nation,” he said. “Two thirds of the educated girls stay in their village and community while only a third of the men stay. This has much more impact as they become mothers.”







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About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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