FEATURED PHOTOS AND STORIES

Wednesday:  December 17, 2014

When Will Chile's Post Office's Re-open? 

(PHOTO: Workers set up camp at Santiago's Rio Mapocho/Mason Bryan, The Santiago Times)Chile nears 1 month without mail service as postal worker protests continue. This week local branches of the 5 unions representing Correos de Chile voted on whether to continue their strike into a 2nd month, rejecting the union's offer. For a week the workers have set up camp on the banks of Santiago's Río Mapocho displaying banners outlining their demands; framing the issue as a division of the rich & the poor. The strike’s main slogan? “Si tocan a uno, nos tocan a todos,” it reads - if it affects 1 of us, it affects all of us. (Read more at The Santiago Times)

WHO convenes emergency talks on MERS virus

 

(PHOTO: Saudi men walk to the King Fahad hospital in the city of Hofuf, east of the capital Riyadh on June 16, 2013/Fayez Nureldine)The World Health Organization announced Friday it had convened emergency talks on the enigmatic, deadly MERS virus, which is striking hardest in Saudi Arabia. The move comes amid concern about the potential impact of October's Islamic hajj pilgrimage, when millions of people from around the globe will head to & from Saudi Arabia.  WHO health security chief Keiji Fukuda said the MERS meeting would take place Tuesday as a telephone conference & he  told reporters it was a "proactive move".  The meeting could decide whether to label MERS an international health emergency, he added.  The first recorded MERS death was in June 2012 in Saudi Arabia & the number of infections has ticked up, with almost 20 per month in April, May & June taking it to 79.  (Read more at Xinhua)

LINKS TO OTHER STORIES

                                

Dreams and nightmares - Chinese leaders have come to realize the country should become a great paladin of the free market & democracy & embrace them strongly, just as the West is rejecting them because it's realizing they're backfiring. This is the "Chinese Dream" - working better than the American dream.  Or is it just too fanciful?  By Francesco Sisci

Baby step towards democracy in Myanmar  - While the sweeping wins Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy has projected in Sunday's by-elections haven't been confirmed, it is certain that the surging grassroots support on display has put Myanmar's military-backed ruling party on notice. By Brian McCartan

The South: Busy at the polls - South Korea's parliamentary polls will indicate how potent a national backlash is against President Lee Myung-bak's conservatism, perceived cronyism & pro-conglomerate policies, while offering insight into December's presidential vote. Desire for change in the macho milieu of politics in Seoul can be seen in a proliferation of female candidates.  By Aidan Foster-Carter  

Pakistan climbs 'wind' league - Pakistan is turning to wind power to help ease its desperate shortage of energy,& the country could soon be among the world's top 20 producers. Workers & farmers, their land taken for the turbine towers, may be the last to benefit.  By Zofeen Ebrahim

Turkey cuts Iran oil imports - Turkey is to slash its Iranian oil imports as it seeks exemptions from United States penalties linked to sanctions against Tehran. Less noticed, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in the Iranian capital last week, signed deals aimed at doubling trade between the two countries.  By Robert M. Cutler

HUM HUMOR

"CLIMATE CHANGE: EVERYWHERE"

CARTOON: Peter Broelman, Australia/BROELMAN.com.au) "HILLARY ROUND THE WORLD"

(CARTOON: Taylor Jones/Politicalcartoons.com)

"HOW THE MIGHTY FALL"

(CARTOON: Michael Ramirez/Weekly Standard)

COUNTRIES AND TERRITORIES
WORLD CLOCKS
   
San Marino     Mongolia
   
Vancouver     Ghana
"THE GIRL EFFECT" - VIDEO

Advertisement

 

HUM SEARCH
@HUMNEWS ON TWITTER

`SUPPORT-A-REPORTER'

 Follow Me on Pinterest  Folo us on Pinterest.

Read some exciting news about our founder and FFI, here: http://bit.ly/12GJyXs

Are you a Global Citizen?Join us on GlobalCitizen.org to help end extreme poverty.

TRANSLATE HUMNEWS

THE HUM - OUR DAILY EMAIL OF WORLD HEADLINES
MY HUMPLANET

Do you have your eye on the world? Help us expand the global perspective and tell the stories that shape it.  SHARE what's happening locally, globally wherever you are, however you can. Upload your news, videos, pictures & articles HERE & we'll post them on  MY HUM PLANET CONNECT.  Learn something NEWS every day! THX

Advertisement

HUM BOOKS: Focus on FRIENDSHIP
  • Friendship in an Age of Economics: Resisting the Forces of Neoliberalism
    Friendship in an Age of Economics: Resisting the Forces of Neoliberalism
    by Todd May
  • Friends to the End: The True Value of Friendship
    Friends to the End: The True Value of Friendship
    by Bradley Trevor Greive
  • Friendship as a Way of Life: Foucault, AIDS, and the Politics of Shared Estrangement
    Friendship as a Way of Life: Foucault, AIDS, and the Politics of Shared Estrangement
    by Tom Roach
HUM SOCIAL GOOD

Learn more and join us here!

HUMNEWS SOCIAL MEDIA

  Look for HUMNEWS in the News Section of PULSE @www.pulse.me. For iPad, iPhone & Android-recently launched on deck for Samsung’s Galaxy tab.

Advertisement

HUM TWITTER FEEDS
10000 Women 9/11 9-11 92Y ABC News Abdel Futuh Abdoulaye Wade abductions Abidjan Abuja abyei Acapulco ACS Action Against Hunger ADB Adivasi Adjara adolescents Afghanistan Africa Africa Fashion Week Africa Human Development Report African Wax AFRICOM agriculture agrochemical Ahmad Ashkar Ai Weiwei aid Aid Effectiveness aid work aid workers AIDS Air Canada Air France airlines Aisha Gaddafi Alain Juppe Alan Fisher Alassane Ouattara Albania Albanians Alexandria Algeria Alina Vrejoiu Alliance of Small Island States al-Qaeda Amama Mbaba Amazon American Samoa Americas Amina Filali Amnesty International Amr Moussa ANC Andaman Islands Andes Andorra Angelina Jolie angola Anguilla Anna Hazare Ansar Dine Antarctica Antigua & Barbuda Antonio Guterres Antonio Patriota apartheid Apple Arab Spring Aral Sea Arctic Argentina Armenia Art Aruba ascetism ASEAN ASEM Asia Asia Pacific Asia Society Asian Development Bank Asylum Asylum-seekers Augusto Pinochet Aung San Suu Kyi Aurora Borealis Australia Autism Azawad Azerbaijan baby trafficking Baghdad Bahamas Bahrain Balkans Balthasar Garzon Baluchistan Ban Ki-moon Bangalore Bangkok BANGLADESH Barack Obama Barbados Bashar Assad Bashir Bashir al-Assad bats Beijing belarus Belgium BELIZE Belo Monte Benghazi Benin Berlusconi Bermuda Bettina Borgfeld Beyonce Bhutan Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation BILL GATES Bill McKibben bio fuel Bishkek Bitter Seeds black jails Boko Haram Bolivia Bono books Bosco Ntaganda Bosnia Bosnia-Herzegovina Botswana Bouthaina Kamel BRAC Brazil Brazilian government Brian Williams BRICS Britain British Indian Ocean Territory British Indian Territory British Virgin Islands broadband Bron Villet Bruce Springsteen Brunei Brunei Darussalam Bruno Pellaud Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burma Burundi Business Cairo Cambodia Cameroon Campesino Campesinos sin Terra Canada cancer Cape Town Cape Verde Carbon CARE Caribbean CARICOM Carlos Enrigue Garcia Gonzalez Carlos Travassos Cartagena Casablanca Catherine Ashton Catholic Relief Services Cayman Islands CBS Central Africa Central African Republic Central America Central Asia CGI Chad Charles Feeney Chernobyl Child Labor child labour child marriage child soldiers Children chile China China's Communist Party Chinese farmers Chocolate cholera Cholpan Nogoibaeva Christiane Amanpour Christianity Christmas Island CIDA CItigroup Citizen Ciudad Jarez climate climate change Clinton CLMV Countries cluster munitions CNN Cocos Island coffee Colombia Columbia University Commission for Africa Committee on World Food Security Committee To Protect Journalists commodities Commonwealth community-based organizations Comoros conflict Congo Congolese conservation consumer Contas River Contraception Cook Islands COP17 corruption Costa Rica Cote D'Ivoire cotton Council on Foreign Relations coup Cover The Night CPJ credit Crime Crimes Against Humanity crisis Croatia Cuba culture cyclone Cyprus Dadaab Dakar Damon Runyon Dan Lashof Dan Toole Darfur David Bernet David Von Kittelberger DDenmark Dear Kara Delhi democracy Democratic Republic of Congo demonstrations Dengue Fever Denmark dennis fentie Department of State depression Deraa Desmond Tutu developing countries development Diabetes Dilma Rousseff Disaster Risk disasters discrimination disease Diwali Djibouti Doctors without Borders Dominica Dominican Republic Dominique Strauss-Kahn DPKO DPRK Dr. Judy Dr. Judy Kuriansky Dr. Mark Welch Dr. William Gray DRC DRINKS drought Drug war Drugs Dubai Duncan McCargo Earth Hour Earthquake East Africa East Timor Easter Island Eastern Europe ECHO economy ECOSOC ECOWAS Ecuador Education Egypt Eid Eirene El Alto EL SALVADOR El Trabajo de Crecer Election elections electricity Elizabeth Okoro Ellen Johnson SIrleaf Emerging emerging markets energy Energy4All enough project environment Environmental Defense Fund equality Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia ethnic cleansing EU Eurasia EurasiaNet Europe European Union expats explosion Facebook Falkland Islands famine FAO FARC farmers Farming Faroe Islands FASHION Father Wismick Jean Charles Federated States of Micronesia Feeding America Felipe Calderon Femicide Fernando Lugo Festival FGM FIFA Fiji Fiji Islands Films finance Finland flood floods food food crisis food security Forbes Ford Foundation foreign aid foreign assistance foreign correspondents club of China Foreign Policy Forest Whitaker Foxconn France FRENCH GUIANA French Polynesia fuel Future G20 G8 Gabon Gabriel Elizondo Gaddafi Gambia Gandhi Ganges River Gangs Gao Gauteng Gaza Gbagbo GCC GDP Geena Davis Gender Genetically Modified Food Geneva Genocide George Clooney Georgia Germany Ghana Giants of Broadcasting Gibraltar Girl Effect Girls Giving Pledge Gladstone Harbour Glenn Ashton Global Compact Global Digital Solidarity Fund global food prices Global Fund Global Health Global Malaria Program Globalhealth Globalization GMO's GMO's India Golden Globes Goma Good Samaritan Center Goodluck Jonathan Google grassroots organizations Greece Greed Greenland Greg Mortenson Grenada GRIST GRULAC Guadeloupe Guam Guantanamo Guarani Guatemala Gucci Guinea Gulf of Aden GUYANA Habitat For Humanity Haiti Half the Sky Halloween Hamadoun-Toure Hamid Karzai Happiness Haze health Heglig Helen Wang Hershey hhuman rights Hillary Clinton Hindu HIV HIV/AIDS HIVAIDS Hoffman Hollywood Hollywood Foreign Press Association homosexuality Honduras hookah Horn of Africa Hotel Housing HSBC Hu Jintao Hubble Telescope Hugo Chavez Hult Global Case Challenge HUM Human Impact Institute human rights Human Rights Watch Human Rights Watch Film Festival human trafficking Human Unlimited Media Humanitarian humanitarian work HUMmingbirdz Hunger hurricane Hurricane Rina IAEA IAVI Ibrahim Azim ICC Iceland ICG ICRC IHL ILO IMF immigrants Immigration improved cook stoves Imran Garda India Indian Ocean Indians Indigenous Indonesia inequality information infrastructure Innocence of Muslims Innovation INSI International Aid international community International Criminal Court International Crisis Group international development International Human Rights Day International Labour Organization International Maritime Board International Red Cross Internet Internews Interpol investing investment Invisible Children IO IOC IOM IPad IPhone Iran Iraq IRC Ireland irrigation Islam Islamabad Islamic Broadcasting Union Islamic Republic of Iran Islamists Islamophobia Islands Israel Italy ITC ITU Ivory Coast IWD Jamaica Japan Jarvis Island Jason Russell Je Yang Camp Jerusalem Jerusalem Post Jezebel Jim Rogers Jody Williams Johannesburg John McCain John Prendergast JOIDES Resolution Jordan Jose Carlos Meirelles Jose Graziano Da Silva Joseph Kabila Joseph Kony journalism journalists Joyce Banda Jr Judy Kuriansky Julia Gillard Kachin State Kah Walla Kaingang Kano Karachi Karen Attiah Karl Marx Kashmir Kazakhstan kenya Kenya Airways kgb Khaled Said Kidal Kigali Kim Jong-il King Mswati Kiribati Koror Kosovo Kurdistan Workers' Party Kurds Kuwait Kyoto Treaty Kyrgyzstan La Nina Labuje camp Lagos landmines Laos Las Vegas latin america Latvia Laurent Gbagbo Laurie Garrett LDCs Lebanon Leslie Lane Lesotho Lesser Antilles Leyla Qasim LGBT Liberia Libya Liechtenstein Literacy Liu Changlong Liuxiazhuang London London Stock Exchange Louise Arbour LRA LTTE lukasenka LUNCH Luxembourg lybia M23 Macau Macedonia Madagascar Maggie Padlewska Maha Kumbh Mela Mahatma Gandhi Mahmoud Abbas Mahmoud Ahmadinejad malaria Malawi Malaysia maldives Mali malnutrition Malvinas Islands Manuel Zelaya Margaret Chan Marie Claire Marina Cue marine Mark Fitzpatrick Marrakesh Marshall Islands Martin Indyk Martin Luther King Martinique Marwan Bishara Mary Robinson MASERU Mashable Mastercard Foundation maternal health mauritania Mauritius Max Frisch Mayotte MDG Summit MDGs MDG's media Melanesia Melanesian Spearhead Group Memorial Day Memphis Mental Health Mercy Corps Mexican Red Cross mexico Mia Farrow Micha Peled Michael Bociurkiw Michelle Funk Micronesia micronutrient initiative micronutrients Middle East migrants migration Mike Hanna millennium development goals Mine Ban Treaty mining Misogyny Misrata Miss Universe Mississippi river Miyagi MLK Mogadishu Mohamed Cheikh Biadilah Mohammad Nasheed Mohammad Waheed Hassan Moldova Money Mongolia Mongolian Stock Exchange Monsanto Montenegro MONTSERRAT Morocco Mothers Mozambique Mr. Gay World MSF Mswati Mt. Merapi Muammar Gaddafi Mubarak Muhammed Munduruku Murder Musharraf Muslim Brotherhood Mustapha Erramid Myanmar MYUGANDA NAB Nahru Nairobi Namibia NASA Natalie Billon national congress party National Congress Party (NCP) National Democratic Force National Science Foundation NATO Natural Resources Defense Fund Nauru NBC News Nelson Mandella NEMA Nepal Netherlands Antilles Nevada New Caledonia New Jersey New York New Zealand NGO nicaragua Nicholas Kristof Nick Popow Niergai Nigel Fisher Niger Nigeria Nigerian elections Nike Nike Foundation Niue Nobel Nobel Women's Initiative Nokia Non-Aligned Movement North Africa North Kivu North Korea Northern Mexico Norway not on our watch Nuclear nuclear power plant Nutrition NYC OAS Obama OccupyNigeria Ocean Ocean Health Index oceans OCED OCHA OECD OHCHR Ohrid Framework Agreement OIC Oil Olena Sullivan OLPC Olympics Oman Omar al-Bashir Omar Suleiman One Laptop Per Child One Village Planet-Women's Development Initiative Oprah Organization of American States Organization of Islamic Countries Osama bin Laden OSCE Ouattara OXFAM Oxi P-5 Pacific Pacific Institute of Public Policy Pacific Island Forum Pacific Small Island Developing States Pakistan Palau Palestine Palestinian Liberation Organization Palestinians Palocci Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Parana Park Won Soon Paul Giannone Paul Kagame Paul Martin PDP Peace Peacekeepers Peacekeeping PEACEMEAL PEPFAR Perspective Peru philanthropy Philippines Pilay Piracy Pirates Pitcairn PKK PNG Pokuaa Busumru-Banson polio politics pollution Pope Benedict population Pork Port-au-Prince Porto Alegre Portugal poverty President Asif Zardari President Bingu wa Mutharika President Joseph Kabila President Karzai President Lee Myung-bak President Thein Sein Press Freedom Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski Prime Minister Shekh Hasina Wajed Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani Prince Zeid protests Proview Puerto Rico Putin Qatar Quetta rainforest Ramadan rape Rarotonga Ray Chambers RC Palmer Red Cross Reduction referendum refugees religion remittances Reporters Without Borders Reproductive Rights Republic of Congo Republic of South Sudan Reunion Island Richard Branson Richard Parsons Richard Pithouse Richmond Rick Steves Rio Branco Rio de Janeiro Rio Grande do Sul RIO+20 Robert Mugabe Robinah Alambuya Romania Ronit Avi Room to Read Rousseff Rowan Jacobsen Roxy Marosa Royal Air Maroc Russell Daisey Russia Rwanda S-5 SACMEQ sacsis Sahel Sahel NOW Saint Helena Island Salafists Saliem Fakir Salva Kiir Salvador Dali Samoa San Marino sanctions Sanitation Saudi Arabia Save the Children Savvy Traveller Scenarios From the Sahel ScenariosUSA security Security Council Senegal Senetable Seoul Serbia Sergio Vieira de Mello Seth Berkley sex trafficking Sexism sexual abuse Seychelles Sharia Sharks Shashi Tharoor Shirley Wessels shisha Shreeya Sinha Shrein Dewani Sierra Leone Sindh Singapore Skype Slovakia Slovenia smoking Social Good Summit social development social media Solar Solar Panels SolarAid Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South America South China Sea South Kordofan South Korea South Pacific South Sudan Southeast Asia Southern Kordofan Southern Sudan South-South cooperation South-Sudan Southwest Farm Press Soweto Soya Spain SPLA sports Sri Lanka St . Vincent & The Grenadines St Lucia St. Kitts and Nevis St. Maarten St. Vincent and the Grenadines Stand Up For Peace Project starvation statelessness steel StopRape Students Sub-Saharan Africa sudan sudan people's liberation movement Summitt of the Americas Superstorm Sandy Surfing SURINAME Sustainable development Svalbard Svalbard & Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syria Tahiti Taiwan Tajikistan Taliban Tanzania technology Ted Turner Tehran Terena terror Thailand Thaksin The Arab Spring The Bahamas The Caribbean The Carter Center The Elders The Enough Project The Gambia The Hunger Games The Marshall Islands the Middle East The Netherlands The Ocean Project the Philippines The Republic of South Sudan The Surfrider Foundation The Whistleblower theatre Thein Sein Themrise Khan Three Cups of Tea Tibet Tiger Tigers Tikki Pang Tim Hetherington Timbuktu Timor-Leste Tobacco Togo Toilets Tokelau Tom Schelling Tonga Tony Lake Toronto tourism trade Trademarks trafficking travel Trinidad & Tobago Trinidad and Tobago Tripoli tsunami Tuareg Tuberculosis Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks & Caicos Tuvalu Twitter Typhoon Bopha Typhoon Pablo UAE Uganda UK Ukraine UN UN Clean Development Mechanism UN Food and Agriculture Organization UN Foundation UN Peacekeepers UN Security Council un techo para mi pais UN Women UNAIDS UNCTAD UNDP UNEP UNESCO UNFCC UNFPA UNHabitat UNHCR unicef Union Solidarity and Development Party UNISDR United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United Nations United States United to End Genocide University of South Florida UNOCI UNRWA urbanization Uruguay US US Peace Corps US Supreme Court US Troops USA Uzbekistan Vancouver Vandana Shiva Vanuatu Vanuatu. Fiji Venezuela Vestergaard Vice President Joyce Banda Victoria Hazou Vidal Vega Vietnam Vii VIIPhotography Viktor Yanukovych Vladimir Putin Vladivostok Vlisco Vodafone volcano Walmart War Water West Africa West Bank Western Sahara WFP WHO wimax Wine Woman Women Women's Economic Opportunity World World AIDS Day World Bank World Cup World Economic Forum World Food Day World Food Prize World Food Programme World Health Assembly world hunger World Refugee Day WorldCup WTO WWF Xi Jinping Xingu Yemen Youssou N'dour Youth Youth Olympics YouTube Yoweri Museveni Yukon Yulia Tymoshenko Zambia Zimbabwe Zuma

HUM QR CODE

Entries in Three Cups of Tea (2)

Monday
Apr252011

'Three Cups of Tea' Challenges Pakistanis' State of Mind (PERSPECTIVE)

By Themrise Khan

(HN, April 25, 2011) - A well-known British journalist familiar with Pakistan, recently declared that “Pakistan has been playing us all for suckers”.

The declaration was in response to the UK government's planned £650 million in education aid grant for Pakistan. While this statement was made in a wider geo-political context, it seems that recently, Pakistan itself has been played for a sucker by a well-meaning American educationist.

The revelation by some quarters that Greg Mortenson’s Three Cups of Tea was based on semi-fiction, rather than fact, has sent shock waves among Pakistanis, particularly its elite. The elite, because the book hasn’t exactly been the most accessible to the actual subjects that it portrays, i.e. the impoverished families and girls of northern Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Despite accusations that 41% of donations collected by Mortensen and his Central Asian Institute (CAI), have not gone to aid the education of young girls, many in Pakistan still support the author. Their argument is simple. So what if he lied about some things? At least he has helped those in need, which most Pakistanis can hardly admit to themselves. Or, as Mortenson’s avid supporter journalist Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times said in an opinion piece on April 20, “Greg has still built more schools and transformed more children’s lives than you or I ever will”.

It is true that one cannot out rightly deny Mortenson’s contribution to girls’ education in the remote northern areas of Pakistan and regions of war-torn Afghanistan. Many of the stones he has converted into schools, do exist and educate young girls where Pakistan’s own government has not been able to do so. In a country where officially at least, only 45% of females are literate and girls’ schools are regularly targeted by militants, Pakistan’s record in education, especially girls education, has been miserable for decades. So much so, that in a desperate attempt to prop up its weak image, a state of “education emergency” was recently declared, thanks to yet another glossy report commissioned by a non-governmental Education Task Force. Students at The Citizens Foundation Secondary School – Cowasjee Campus, Mauripur, Karachi CREDIT: TCF

This sudden interest in education and the controversy surrounding Mortenson raises several issues, ironically none of which are actually related to girls’ education. Instead, they are indicative of an insecure state of mind that Pakistanis are perpetually in about who they are.

Pakistan has regularly been caught out for misrepresenting facts and embezzling resources meant for others. But we have always been quick to our own defense, citing “weak leadership” or “a lack of accountability”. An easy way of saying, we are at the mercy of others.

There have been several education programmes such as the Education Sector Reforms and debt swaps that have spent millions, perhaps billions of dollars, on building schools, increasing enrollment, developing curriculum and training teachers - the end result of which have been an even weaker education system. Rarely, have these failures been brought to task by those who have been quick to jump to Mortenson’s defense.

At the same time, there are several local philanthropic initiatives in Pakistan that have been perhaps even more successful than Mortenson’s personal attempts.

The Citizens Foundation, a non-profit set up in 1995, has built 730 schools and enrolled over 102,000 underprivileged girls and boys, throughout the country, without controversies attached to it. Several local NGOs throughout rural Pakistan, including in the northern areas, have been trying for many years, to improve community-run education, albeit with much fewer resources and publicity. Neither has any of this been acknowledged enough by those who feel that Mortenson has been unfairly accused and should be exonerated for all the good work he has done.

Herein lies the problem. Does “doing good work” mean that doing a bit of bad shouldn’t really be an issue? Does more of one override the other? Granted that Mortenson is still innocent until proven otherwise, but the issue here is not just whether he misused funds or made up stories to sell his book.
It's about the responsibility that comes with “doing good” not just by the doer, but by the recipient as well. This includes not just building schools and providing education, it is also about trying to sustain the momentum of the change. Mortensen spent years working in both countries. But never once did anyone in either of these countries choose to emulate, study or critique his model. The bestseller status of Three Cups of Tea was evidence enough for us.

So when the revelations were made public, this controversy was yet another nail in the coffin for a country that has and continues to be burned for its malpractices and used by others for a “greater good”, i.e. ridding the world of terrorists.

Reactions to the controversy have also shown how we, as a nation, love to be validated by foreigners rather than by ourselves. Pakistan and Afghanistan needed a Greg Mortenson to tell us through Three Cups of Tea, that we were essentially good people who somehow didn’t have the resources to bring about good. And so for us, he is still a hero, because he did what we couldn’t.

But we still don’t ask why we couldn’t, which is perhaps the biggest disappointment of this saga.

Mortenson’s supporters, including Kristof, are also ignoring the fact that philanthropy is not just about being selfless, it's about sticking to being selfless all the way. It's about what money can do to a person or what a person can do with it. Putting Mortenson or anyone (rival accuser Jon Krackauer perhaps?) on a pedestal, does not exonerate them from being accountable either.  Otherwise, what’s the point of constantly crying for accountability and transparency?

But we still refuse to openly question, authenticate, instead challenging only selected discrepancies in our society, letting ourselves be exploited by others.
 
It is true that the matter has yet to be investigated and can turn out to be completely false itself. But Mortensen’s supporters in Pakistan have already declared him innocent without even waiting for a verdict.

“Does it really matter?”, they ask. Yes, it does matter. This is not about Mortenson. This is about us.

 

HUMNEWS contributor Themrise Khan is a freelance social development consultant based in Karachi who occasionally dares to venture into the Pakistani media.

 

Wednesday
Oct202010

(PEACEMEAL) Baking Bread to Break Bread, Building Communities from the Inside Out

--- Commentary by Cynthia Thomet

Nothing says “comfort” quite like freshly baked bread. Everything about it feels good. Making it, there’s the sifting of flour, carefully adding water to knead the combination into smooth dough.  Baking it, the leavening has a fragrance that can draw crowds. Significantly, making bread is a process that takes time. 

The positive impact is even greater for relief efforts. Today, I came across a little story published on the World Food Programme website entitled, “Pakistan: Food Aid Means Fresh Bread for Homeless Families,” the article underlines the basic human need to eat food for survival, but more importantly, it’s about people surviving the devastating impact of broken families, ruptured communities. 

The recent floods washed through Pakistan as I was coincidentally wrapping up a book called Three Cups of Tea,” by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. It is a non-fiction account of Greg Mortenson’s commitment and travels to build schools for girls and youth in the most rural areas of Northern Pakistan following a troublesome K2 climb. Throughout the book are scenes of poor families and struggling villages preparing feasts from what little they have to create a lifelong bond with Greg, and to secure a commitment from him to build another school for their children.

People who break bread together can develop a deeper understanding for meeting basic needs to build better communities.

There’s one scene in this book where Greg was frustrated to learn that the money he raised in the United States was re-appropriated by village elders in Korphe, Pakistan to build a bridge across a treacherous ravine—one that for decades was bridged by a zip-line of sorts. Greg was immediately aware that bridge project would eat all the funds he raised for a school and would put off building the school for at least another year.

Greg worried what his backers would think. He had approached the village with the vision of building a school. As he fretted and micro-managed construction of the bridge, he was taken aside by Haji Ali, a village elder, who taught him one of the most important lessons for helping communities: “We’re the country of thirty-minute power lunches. Haji Ali taught me to share three cups of tea, to slow down and make building relationships as important as building projects.”

After that meeting with Ali, Greg let go. The bridge was the best solution for this village, as it was the only reasonable way to transport tons of construction materials across the canyon through which some of Central Asia’s coldest glacial waters flowed. The following year, the school was built and led to a domino effect over the next several years of school-building projects throughout this mountainous region of Central Asia. All because he took the time to drink three cups of tea. 

In my mind, the two stories written years apart connected in my consciousness this week. Food is more than fuel, just as my sitting next to a stranger is more than a random occurrence. The moment can carry the impact of a butterfly fluttering its wings on the opposite end of the earth. It can breathe comfort into your soul like freshly baked bread.

--- The author is Cynthia Thomet, a humanitarian, and co owner and doyenne of the award winning downtown Atlanta, Georgia; US restaurant, Lunacy Black Market. http://www.lunacyblackmarket.com/