I’m currently reading Three Cups of Tea, which is a book co-written by Greg Mortenson. It is a compelling story about an American mountainer who became inspired to build a school in the impoverished and isolated mountains of Pakistan. Mortenson began this journey in 1993 and since then has built 55 schools, especially for girls, in the area. The story is inspirational, yet I wonder if it takes more than a determined humanitarian spirit to create the legacy Mortenson has created. Undoubtedly he made many sacrifices in his life to be able to build these schools and worked hard to raise the necessary funding. However, one of the most vital resources Mortenson was able to acquire was the trust and support of the local villagers. He didn’t approach the project as a righteous American mountaneer trying to make a difference in their lives. Instead, he was inspired by them and the promise of their youth. In many nonprofit projects, we see western ideals being taken to other parts of the world and implemented in hopes of establishing the same infrastructure that has worked in the west. Yet, perhaps what is more important is to find inspiration from the target population and then implement projects within the context of their issues and their values.