The book “Three Cups of Tea” is a beautiful narration of a man’s efforts with a community living in the remotest and rugged terrains of Pakistan around the Karakoram Mountains, to build schools and provide education to the children there. The story is inspiring and shows the lengths to which people are willing to go to ensure that the children have the provision to learn.
The story of the people in Karakoram Mountains stands in stark contrast to the story of the people from urban slum and migrant communities. The situations, for one are as different in the two cases as is the geography of the regions- one in a rugged, freezing and cruel terrain; the other in a bustling city with all amenities at a stone’s throw but equally cruel in that the means of getting the amenities is not with the slum communities.
Education battles not only financial constraints but also social and psychological barriers that hinder people from moving ahead. At least a good and balanced education does. Among our people, these barriers are superstitions that make a desperately broke, single mother of two ask for money to pay for a meal so that her dead father’s soul can rest in peace. These barriers are the absence of information that lead to another woman being pregnant with her sixth child while the oldest of the other five takes care of her siblings, one of who is almost blind and all of who are under-nutritioned. The barriers are blind societal beliefs that make it absolutely necessary for every married couple to bear sons and treat daughters as second-class citizens. The barriers are also the acceptance of society of the marginalized as an integral part of its being. So people, including policy makers and law implementers are not really bothered by the existence of, and increase in the urban-deprived. Most of all, the barriers are cultures that do not recognize the importance of education.
So here, in the bustling city with its fancy cars, glittering sign boards and noise from a million people is a barrier as difficult to climb as the most hostile mountain would be- finding the will to educate. Without it, there is no foundation on which to work. The children that we work with are subjected to absolutely conflicting points of view- one that does not care about education and the other that puts good, solid education at the centre of each life. With willpower, one man made communities walk up a steep mountain terrain to build schools. Without willpower, a state capital with all amenities at its beck and call cannot provide its children with balanced learning.
PS- I recommend this book as a must-read!