Altrusa & Library series draws large audience

The 4-part series "Three Cups of Tea - Building Hope in Central Asia" has drawn large audiences during its first 3 evenings, including an overflow crowd for the slideshow on trekking and climbing in the Karakoram Mountains.

Masood Ahmad from Adams State College presented the slideshow and gave the audience a clear picture of the region where Greg Mortenson first began his mission of building schools. Ahmad also told fascinating stories about about his father, a pilot in the Pakistan Air Force. This included a story of his father taking Altrusa's most famous member, Eleanor Roosevelt, on numerous flights throughout Western Pakistan during her visit there in 1952.

Masood Ahmad returned for the 2nd part of the series dressed in traditional Pakistani garb. The theme of the evening was "Cultures of Pakistan & Afghanistan", and participants were treated to various foods of the region, prepared by Altrusans Diane Winger, Lorie Bollig, Jeanne Kuchynka, Natalie Frush, Joyce Loss, Rose Price, and Carol Parker. The audience had many questions for Masood about the beliefs of Muslims, especially attitudes toward women and educating girls. Masood reviewed some of the history of the region, and how radical fringe groups like the Taliban came to power, and were able to suppress the mainstream Islam beliefs which value education for both men and women, and give women numerous rights which have been denied by radical fundamentalists.

The 3rd evening was a panel discussion by Coloradoans who are involved in projects to bring hope and help people in the Himalayan region. Christiane Leitinger (Director of Pennies for Peace, a program of Central Asia Institute), Kay Wiesner (Heifer International), Joanne Kneafsey (The dZi Foundation), and our own Val Burnell & her husband, Terry (representing Altrusa and ASTRA) were our speakers. The audience seemed inspired by their stories, and many picked up information on how to participate in these philanthropic projects.

Altrusa members Carolee Hawkins and Janis Marcha of Alpine Bank brought cakes decorated as pennies to the event. Donations to Pennies for Peace which were made during this summer's Main in Motion, as well as Pennies for Peace collection jars placed at area businesses and hotels were counted at Alpine Bank and a check was presented to Christiane Leitinger. Christiane praised the people of Montrose for raising over $5,000 for Pennies for Peace since she first spoke at an Altrusa event in January 2008.

The final event in the series will be a book discussion of "Three Cups of Tea" by Greg Mortenson.

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