On Sunday, 60 Minutes aired a story about Greg Mortenson, his charity Central Asia Institute (CAI), and his books Three Cups of Tea and Stones into Schools. Three Cups of Tea recounts the story of Mortenson: attempting to climb K2; getting lost on the way down the mountain; stumbling into a small village where he was moved by the hospitality and poverty; and promising to build a school. CAI has now built hundreds of schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The book was a bestseller for a long time. Mortenson is a sought after public speaker. All-in-all a very interesting story. I read the book a number of years ago and found it inspiring. So, what’s the problem?
The 60 minutes story and work by Jon Krakauer (Three Cups of Deceit – an ebook that I believe is still free to download before tomorrow, http://www.byliner.com/), bring to light aspects of the narrative that seem to be embellished, or completely untrue. Also, and more seriously, there are accusations of financial mismanagement.
From reading blogs and news articles it seems like people who are commenting are divided; some are defending Mortenson, others are vilifying him. I believe that the work that Mortenson has done has enabled thousands of children in Pakistan and Afghanistan, particularly young girls, to attend school. However, does this justify deceiving donors and misusing funds?