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More than One Cup of Tea

Greg Mortenson in Afghanistan 3500ppx

Image via Wikipedia

 The news articles about Greg Mortenson have great significance to me.  It’s not because I’ve invested much money in his Institute, I haven’t.

I believe it’s important to invest in Afghan education, and he first made it real for us, by writing about girls’ schools.

We took Afghan friends to West Point to hear him speak, and they said he made more sense than any other Westerner they’d heard yet speaking about their country!

I really trust their opinions. So, while I want to be objective, I’m also certain this story isn’t finished yet.

Greg Mortenson‘s climbing partner has weighed in on the scandal involving Central Asia Institute and misuse of funds. I’m relieved to hear that he’s refuting some of the quotes attributed to him by Jon Krakauer and 60 Minutes.  Unfortunately, the damage may have already been done to Greg Mortenson’s reputation, and his undeniably noble work.

To argue over whether Afghan men are calling themselves “Taliban” which means student, and whether they detained, or kidnapped Greg, (when Greg says he was kept in their camp at gunpoint) seems utterly silly and Western to me! Someone actually went up to these guys and asked them a direct question??? Give me a break!

I’ve seen the public comment section in every article on the internet run the gamut from support for Mortenson, to condemnation. Many seem to take personal pleasure in finding this simple man a “fraud”.

I’ve written my opinion before;  my belief that he is a pioneer who means well, but doesn’t fit inside typical boundaries, and is certainly not an administrator.

How else could he travel through the wilderness using someone else’s tooth-brush, or go without underwear for weeks on end as he claims in his book?  Nicholas Kristoff confirms his uniqueness in his investigative report where he tells of Greg showing up to speak wearing only one shoe.


 From a Western mind-set, it may sound bizarre, but I suspect this ‘flaw’ makes for Greg’s success in Central Asia.  Some Arabs  have told me that the State Department misses much information because it is so tangled in red tape.  Information gatherers understand very little about the Middle East because they don’t know how to talk to the “man on the street”.

Greg’s ability to operate without structure in the wilderness of Central Asia is probably his downfall in the structured West.

Read his climbing partner’s story below:


To read another opinion from a donor please see:

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