Jean Hoerni invited Greg and his wife for Thanksgiving to Seattle. The spread at the dinner reminded Mortenson about the various banquets he'd been fed at Balistan, during the tug-of war for the school. He spoke about it as Jean was keen to hear and described the ground breaking at the Korphe school, the slaughter of the ram, chogo rabak, and the long night of fire and dancing.
Hoerni said, after dinner, 'Listen! You love what you are doing in the Himalaya and it doesn't sound like you are too bad at it. Why don't you make a career?' He added that no one in the mountaineering world would be interested in helping the Muslims in the villages. 'They have too many Sherpa and Tibetans, too many Buddhists on their brain. What if I endowed a foundation, and made you a director? You could build a school every year. What do you say?' Speechless Greg squeezed his wife's hand.
|Tara and Greg. Wedding day picture!|
I knew about the independent life style of American kids once they are eighteen, but I still have to get used to the extent of independence they enjoyed! It applies to parents as well!
In his next visit to Pakistan Mortenson has a title, suggested by Hoerni, 'Director, Central Asia Institute.' From Skardu he sent a message to Mouzafer offering him a wage if he'd come to Korphe and help with the school. He also also visited Ghulam Parvi and laid out his modest plan for the future - finish the Korphe School and build another school somewhere in Balistan the following year - and asked Parvi to be part of it. As authorised by Hoerni, he offered Parvi a small salary to supplement his income as as an accountant. With Makhmal, a skilled mason who Parvi introduced to Mortenson arrived at Korphe on a Friday afternoon.
Mortenson was surprised as he saw a dozen well dressed women, who bowed to him in welcome before they crossed the bridge to visit their families. Now that they could be back the same afternoon, Korphe's women started regular family visits to their families.... The bridge made the women feel whole lot happier and feel less isolated. A small bridge had empowered the women!
Haji Ali, flanked by Twaha and Jahan, welcomed his American son with bear hug and behind him stood his old friend Mouzafer, who smiled shyly.
The story so far is wonderful, it is not only about Mortenson, it is also about Jean Hoerni and equally or more importantly about Haji Ali. A true visionary.
Mortenson also took initial steps towards creating a nucleus of an organisation.
|Mortension with supporters and members of CAI staff in Skardu,|
Ghulam Parvi is third from left.