The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


A school for kindness

Storms broke just as Greg Mortenson was nearing the summit of the Pakistani mountain peak K2, the second highest in the world. He barely made it off and was severely weakened when two guides found him and took him to Korphe, their village in the valley, where he was nursed back to health.

In that conservative Shiite Islamic village, "I was touched by the incredible hospitality, love and kindness," Mortenson said. The son of Lutheran missionaries Jerene and the late Dempsey Mortenson, he grew up on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro in Moshi, Tanzania.

That rescue happened 10 years ago. Mortenson was affected by the plight of children in Korphe, especially their school where they sat in the dirt and 84 shared eight slate boards. Most, he recalls, wrote in the dirt. He decided then to raise funds to help build a school. Today what he began as a promise to one small village has become a multinational mission called the Central Asia Institute, which promotes literacy, women's vocational skills, and awareness of public health and environmental issues. The institute has built 28 schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan and four women's vocational centers.

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