As Mortensen sets out to collect the $12,000 he needs to build the 5 room school in Korphe he finds his progress becoming very unsuccessful. He has sent out over 580 letters to well-known politicians and celebrities. He had also applied for 16 grant applications to help raise this money. Mortensen had even visited a school, the school his mother was the principal of, to give a speech to 600 students about the children of Korphe. Mortensen claims that it seemed like the students really understood him.
In chapter 5, Relin stated, "A month after returning to Berkeley, Mortensen got a letter from his mother. She explained that her students had spontaneously launched a "Pennies for Pakistan" drive. Filling two forty-gallon cans, they collected 62,345 pennies. When he deposited the check his mother had sent along for $623.45 Mortensen felt like his luck was finally changing. "Children had taken the first step toward building the school," Mortensen says. "And they did it with something that's basically worthless in our society--pennies. But overseas pennies can move mountains." (52)
I think this is a very powerful quote because it truly shows how a very little thing to us, like pennies, is so important in other places. It shows how different the two places are in terms of economy and quality of life. The children of the school had been so generous that they were Mortensen's first step to building the school for the less fortunate children from Korphe. To me, I think the phrase, "pennies can move mountains" (52) shows us, as individuals, how much we can do for someone else.