Here is Fareed's 2008 interview with Greg Mortenson:
Greg Mortenson: I went to K-2 in '93, spent 78 days on the mountain.
Fareed Zakaria: And K-2 is...
Mortenson: It's the world's second-highest mountain in Pakistan, on the Pakistan-Chinese border.
Coming off the mountain, it was very difficult, dangerous. Several people died that year.
I ended up walking five days, stumbling into a village. And I was weak, exhausted, emaciated. I had no...
Zakaria: At this point, you were just literally looking for someplace to sleep and eat.
Mortenson: I was so touched by their hospitality – a very poor, impoverished area. I went behind the village one day. I saw 84 children sitting in the dirt doing their school lessons with sticks in the sand.
So, when a young girl, Chocho, came up to me and asked me to help her build a school, I made a promise to help them build a school.
We figured out I'd need $12,000. I came back to the States. I had no clue how to fund raise. So, I hand-typed 580 letters to celebrities and movie stars. It took me 10 weeks. I only got one check back from Tom Brokaw. Then I...
Zakaria: For how much?
Mortenson: A hundred dollars.
And then I wrote – I sold my car. I sold my climbing gear. By spring I had only raised $2,400.
And my mother, who was a principal in an elementary school in Wisconsin, invited me to come and talk to the kids in early '94. And a young fourth grader named Jeffrey said, "I have a piggy bank at home, and I'm going to help you."
I didn't think much of it. And in six weeks they raised 62,340 pennies. So, that's what really got the ball rolling. And then adults, obviously, started responding.
I went back in '95. Six weeks later the school got built.
Zakaria: So, you built this one school. And then what happens? You go away and you think that's the end of it?
Mortenson: No. I decided in '96 to dedicate my life to mostly promoting literacy and education for girls in rural Pakistan and Afghanistan. And I had seen what the lack of education can do. And being that my mother and my parents or grandparents are all educators, I made a commitment to build more schools.
And we focus on – our priority is not numbers of schools, but schools – areas where there is no education due to religious extremism, areas of conflict and war or physical isolation. And we work with the communities. They have to provide free manual labor, free land, free resources. So, we leverage to get...
Zakaria: So, they have to participate. And they have to...
Zakaria: They have to have some ownership of the process.
Mortenson: Fifty percent, basically, sweat equity and free land.
Zakaria: How many schools have you built?
Mortenson: Seventy-eight. And we're running about 40 – four dozen others, and...
Zakaria: So, tell me. You look – these are literally the areas where the Taliban is rising and is gaining strength. What's your insight into why is it that Islamic fundamentalism is growing in these areas?
Mortenson: Impoverishment, illiteracy. But also – I have studied the Holy Quran. The first word of the revelation to Muhammad the Prophet is the word "ikra." And in Arabic, ikra means read. The first two chapters implore that all people have a quest for knowledge.
I think it's important to focus on the girls. Obviously, the boys are important, too. But in Africa there's a proverb. If you educate a boy, you educate an individual. If you educate a girl, you educate a community. It's often girls who are deprived of education.
Zakaria: But you see these girls, and you see these boys. Do any of them start becoming more fundamentalist, religious? I mean, when you see something like that happen, just looking at it on the ground, why does it happen? Why does a young man decide to join the Taliban?
Mortenson: Well, it doesn't take much. In areas we work, Taliban or recruiters come in. They'll give maybe $50 a year per son.
If there is no secular education, there's much more aspiration to go – they feel – they don't know really what education is, and they'll end up going into an extremist madrassa. About four million, mostly young boys, are in those schools.
And I think the real reason, I've learned is – we have four former Taliban who are now teaching in our girls' schools out of about 540 teachers.
Zakaria: And what do they – what do they say about this? Why were they in the Taliban?
Mortenson: Well, they said they didn't realize at the time – they went originally to formal school, but then they went to an extremist madrassa. And they felt that what their imam or the mullah was telling them is that the real light is through, you know, extremist, radical Islam.
Zakaria: And through violence...
Mortenson: Through violence.
But what they told me is, which I've learned recently, is that in the Holy Quran, when someone goes on jihad – and jihad can also be a noble quest – but they have to get permission blessings from their mother. If they don't do that, it's very shameful or disgraceful.
And all four of these men got out of the Taliban, because their mothers told them what they're doing is not in the name of Islam. And they were – they persuaded their son to get out of the Taliban.
And they're kind of like an ex-smoker now. They're our biggest advocates for girls' education.