Greg Mortenson was born in 1957, and grew up on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro. It was in 1991, after a long mountain climb to honor his late sister, that Mortenson encountered a group of school children in Korphe, a small village in Pakistan, that determined his next endeavor. Because they were using sticks in sand for their lessons, Mortenson promised to build them a school. This humble promise led to a humanitarian endeavor that changed the course of thousands of young lives. Mortenson dedicated his life to the promotion of education, particularly for girls, in rural areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan. His efforts were met with great difficulty as he barely survived an eight day kidnapping by the Taliban, fled from a firefight with feuding Afghan warlords by hiding under animal hides in an escape truck, and has fought through countless more grave circumstances and serious threats. His fight was not in vain as he founded Pennies for Peace and the Central Asia Institute. His efforts led to the establishment of over 90 schools, providing education to over 34,000 chil,dren where there was virtually no opportunity before he began. In response to his fifteen years of promoting education in Pakistan, he was given the country's highest civil award, the Sitara-e-Pakistan (Star of Pakistan), and several U.S. Congressional representatives nominated Mortenson for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009. Mortenson wrote the New York Times Bestseller Three Cups of Tea, which has sold over 3 million copies in 34 different countries and is also required reading for U.S. senior military commanders, US Special Forces sent to Afghanistan, and Pentagon officers in counter-insurgency training. Having spent over 72 months in the rural and tumultuous villages that he served, Greg Mortenson exhibits the kind of dedication to the humanitarian cause of education that commands trust and respect from leaders across the globe.
"I've learned that terror doesn't happen because some group of people somewhere like Pakistan or Afghanistan simply decide to hate us. It happens because children aren't being offered a bright enough future that they have a reason to choose life over death."