SALEM, MA - 03/08/2010 - Greg Mortenson will be the recipient of the 18th annual Salem Award for Human Rights and Social Justice, to be presented on Saturday, May 1st at Salem High School, Salem, MA at 7:30 PM. The Salem Award is presented annually to an individual or organization working to promote tolerance and end injustice. Mortenson is being recognized for his work supporting peace efforts and building schools, especially for girls, in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He is well known for these efforts and for the best-selling books that chronicle his work, Three Cups of Tea and Stones into Schools.
Ever since a failed attempt to climb Pakistan's K2 in 1993, when Mortenson was rescued and nursed back to health by the residents of the village of Korphe, he has dedicated his life to promoting community-based education and literacy programs, especially for girls, in the mountainous regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan. In 1994, he co-founded the nonprofit Central Asia Institute (www.ikat.org), of which he is Executive Director and which has worked in close cooperation with tribal villagers to complete 131 schools in many provinces of the two countries.
Today these schools are educating about 58,000 students. Mortenson's approaches and achievements in Afghanistan and Pakistan have been so successful that many higher-ranking officers of both the U.S. State Department and military are required to read his books. His work has not been without incident. Twice he had hostile fatwas issued against him; he was held captive for eight days by independent, tribal Waziris; and he witnessed the refugee camps in Pakistan filled with thousands of Afghanis who had fled in terror as the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan in the late 1990's.
The award presentation is scheduled for 7:30 PM, and will be preceded by a buffet dinner at 5:30 PM with Greg Mortenson. Both events will take place at Salem High School and admission will be by ticket only. Tickets for the Salem Award program are available for purchase through the Salem Award website, www.salemaward.org. Prices are $10 for adults, $5 for college students and $3 for K-12 students. Tickets to the buffet dinner with Greg Mortenson are $50.00. There is no charge for program tickets for Salem residents and students as well as Salem State College students. Salem residents who wish to receive free tickets may pick them up at Salem City Hall, Legal Department; Salem State students may receive free tickets at the College Student Life Office. Due to limited seating capacity, there is a maximum of 2 free tickets per person.
The Salem Award Foundation for Human Rights and Social Justice www.salemaward.org was established following the tercentenary of the Salem Witch Trials in 1992. The Salem Award Foundation's mission is to recognize, honor and perpetuate the commitment to social justice and human rights of individuals and organizations whose work is proven to have alleviated discrimination or promoted tolerance. The Salem Award is our attempt today to acknowledge what happened more than 300 years ago and, in a small way, atone for the mistakes of the past.