Three Cups of Tea . . and Sympathy

From the time we first read Greg Mortenson’s book ‘Three Cups of Tea’ and the follow up ‘Stones Into Schools’, which describes his mission to promote peace through education, particularly of girls – one school at a time, we have followed and supported his Central Asia Institute. Hundreds of village schools have been constructed and staffed in Afghanistan and Pakistan. College and University places have been supported and student hostels built and staffed and protected, all with the support of local people and against all the odds that war, poverty and ignorance can stack against enlightenment.

Now there is news of these tragic murders – they are not the first and they will not be the last. The courage of the local community in refusing to bow down to the militants should inspire everyone who believes in and hopes for a peaceful world – neighbour co-existing with neighbour. The Central Asia Institute is a mould-breaking organisation that needs and deserves support; you can help a little, if you have a mind to.

Buy the books here or from Amazon. Follow on Facebook or the CAI website which is full of good info. Whatever you do, don’t turn away.

Alan, lucky enough to live in peaceful Okçular Köyü

June 24, 2012 – CAI teacher, village mullah killed for supporting girls’ education

With heavy hearts and immeasurable sadness we deliver news that militants have killed a CAI teacher and a high-ranking local mullah, who was also part of provincial leadership.

These two men risked and gave their lives to promote literacy and girls’ education in their Afghan village. Our prayers, condolences and support go to the widows, families and communities of these brave men. The Arabic words that Muslims use upon hearing of anyone’s death are, “Inna Lillahe wa inna eleihe rajioon.” In English, the words mean, “We are from Allah, and to Allah return.”

Afghan authorities are still investigating the murders, but witnesses have told CAI that non-local militants deliberately targeted the two men for death. The militants lured the men outside the village, conducted a short illegal tribunal, charged them both with spying for the Afghan government, and then brutally and summarily executed them. The men left behind two widows and 14 children.

Wakil Karimi, our Afghanistan program manager, and CAI were notified almost immediately after the tragedy. However, we wanted to ensure the men’s families were safe and supported before sharing this story. Afghan authorities have asked that the men’s names not be released until their investigation is complete.


CAI has had a long relationship with both men. We shared their joy in the early days, as they encouraged families to send their daughters to school in the mullah’s house, and then to a tent school. We shared their duas(prayer blessings) and excitement during groundbreaking for the new school and when the new school building opened for classes.

The school faced threats over the years, but the village shura (elders) and the mullah negotiated with the local militants not to harm the students or the school. Only recently, with the influx of non-local militants who have disrupted civil society in the area, did this tragedy unfold.

There are no words to adequately express the grief that CAI’s family in the United States, Afghanistan and Pakistan feels over the loss of these men. Even though our overseas staff come from different countries, various Islamic sects, and multiple tribal and ethnic affiliations, we have all taken time to offer prayers and pledged to help the families in the future, including scholarships for the men’s children.

It would have been understandable if the community had opted to close the school or sever their ties with CAI to avoid further reprisals. But villagers have instead insisted that girls’ education will continue and that the men will not have died in vain. They have asked for a new teacher and CAI’s continued support. We will do everything in our power to honor that request.

If and when the time is right, and with permission from the families, CAI will release the names of the murdered teacher and mullah. In the meantime, please take a moment of silence to remember our friends, and, if you are inclined, please remember their families in your prayers.

Blessings of peace.

QUOTE: “When a great man dies, for years the light he leaves behind him lies on the paths of men.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

— Greg Mortenson

10 thoughts on “Three Cups of Tea . . and Sympathy

  1. . . brave – yes! terrible waste? I understand what you mean, but I think the men, their families and the students would consider the price terrible but the ‘gift’ beyond measure.
    The US is doing awful things in the region – here is one US based organisation that seeks to redress the evil – if you can support them do – if you can ask others to do so, do it! I was a professional soldier, I thought I knew what courage was – I didn’t!
    Alan recently posted..Performing Minor Miracles – The Göle Book ProjectMy Profile

  2. I regret that something like this will happen. After all, both were after for the betterment of the people they are dealing with. However, it will really be hard to tell that to people whose minds are closed by their beliefs.

    1. Hi Colin, first – welcome to Archers – I hope to see you here again in the future. What you say about closed minds is very true – wherever you find them in the world. Realising that it is not just the members and staff at CAI, but whole communities that seek the betterment of their children, especially girls, helps to break down the stupid stereotyping by many in the ‘developed world’. If Western governments behaved more like Mortenson and CAI instead of murdering people with drones the world would be safer – trouble is, there is not enough profit in peace!
      Alan recently posted..Performing Minor Miracles – The Göle Book ProjectMy Profile

  3. The murderers sound like the kind of people that the U.S. armed and brought to power in Afghanistan in the 90s – the Taliban. Under the previous government, women and girls could get an education and work. After the Taliban were in power for almost ten years, the U.S. had the gall to sell their 2001 invasion to American feminists as a means to liberate women! They indeed are doing awful things. It’s great to get information about U.S. citizen efforts for positive action.
    Senior dogs recently posted..In The Eye Of The HurricaneMy Profile

    1. I’m inclined to argue that the Taliban are the consequence of the murderous inter-factional (who were armed and supplied by the US) fighting/civil war after the Soviets were ousted. The Pakistan military/ISI created, armed, trained and funded the Taliban as a way to control the chaos on their NW border areas – some contend that the ISI is still the patron. The Pakistan military was deeply radicalised and Islamised from the time of Zia al Haq’s coup.
      I agree with your sentiment regarding Mortenson and CAI, if you haven’t read the story I commend it to you, it will ‘warm the cockles of your heart’ in these desperate times.
      Alan recently posted..Performing Minor Miracles – The Göle Book ProjectMy Profile

  4. This is Terrible! There are really heartless people and there are people blessed with kind heart who even in worst situations continue their advocacy.

  5. As an American, many of whom have come into the country, we can ins some ways can feel the pain of those who lose their children to the fanatics, who really don’t understand their own religious book, but use it to kill others.
    stan recently posted..Orchid Flowers BasicsMy Profile

    1. Hi Stan! First, welcome to Archers – hope to see you here in the future. In reply to your comment I would say that if the West paid more attention to its own ‘religious book’ and stopped invading and murdering people around the world we might have a more peaceful planet. It is the so-called democracies that are the real fanatics that, by their actions, spawn fanatical resistance. When we deliver the values of Mortenson and his team instead of drone strikes and jackbooted military and the arrogance of power we might get somewhere.
      Alan recently posted..Suffer The Little Children . . .My Profile

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