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As the leader of Korphe, Haji serves as one of Mortenson’s most important
guides in the region. He teaches Mortenson both through his advice and by explaining
to Mortenson the Balti culture. For instance, Haji teaches Mortenson about the
customs of Northeastern Afghanistan, helping Mortenson to understand how he should
communicate with people in the area to earn their support. Perhaps more importantly,
Haji teaches Mortenson to build relationships in the Balti fashion, rather than
barging ahead as Westerners tend to do. Haji repeatedly emphasizes sacrifice and
patience, as when he tells Mortenson that they can wait to build the Korphe school
until after the bridge is built. These teachings become crucial to Mortenson as the
book progresses. They make him more effective at dealing with locals in the region,
making Mortenson a more effective director of the CAI and resulting in more schools
being built. Haji’s legacy continues even after he dies, in the enlightened
attitudes of his son, Twaha, who vows to honor his father’s teachings, and in his
grand-daughter, Jahan, who becomes a prime example of the CAI’s success in providing
education for girls.