Monday, April 18, 2011
Three Cups of Tea: Largely Inaccurate?
I truly hope the following article from BBC News is not true, but I have a feeling this is NOT the case. For anyone else who is a huge fan of the book Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson (2006), this article comes as a shock and huge disappointment. I, for one, found his book to be incredibly inspiring and moving; these allegations are quite a let-down.
18 April 2011 Last updated at 06:20 ETGreg Mortenson's foundation says it has established more than 170 schools
The best-selling book Three Cups of Tea, which follows the author Greg Mortenson's mission to build schools across Central Asia, is filled with inaccuracies, a US documentary says.
The CBS 60 Minutes report alleges that his charitable foundation took credit for building schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan which do not exist.
The documentary also says Mr Mortenson uses the charitable group as a "private ATM machine".
Mr Mortenson denies the allegations.
In an email he sent out to supporters and news organisations on Sunday before the programme was due to be aired, Mr Mortenson said the documentary based its claims on a single year's tax return to the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
The report "paints a distorted picture using inaccurate information, innuendo and a microscopic focus on one year's (2009) IRS 990 financial," the statement said.
He also posted a statement on the website of the Central Asia Institute, the charitable organisation set up to finance and build schools across the region.
"I stand by the information conveyed in my book and by the value of CAI's [Central Asia Institute] work in empowering local communities to build and operate schools that have educated more than 60,000 students," the statement says.Claims disputed
Three Cups of Tea was released in 2006 and became a best-seller through word of mouth.
The book describes how Greg Mortenson, a mountaineer, got lost while trekking in northern Pakistan, only to be rescued by the residents of a remote village. In the book, he says the kindness of those he encoutered inspired him to build a school.
The 60 Minutes investigation says that porters who accompanied Mr Mortenson dispute his claims of being lost.
The documentary also alleges that a number of the schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan that were said to have been established by the CAI do not exist or were built by other people.
Some principals said they had not received funds from the group for years, the report claims.
The CAI's website says it has established more than 170 schools and helped educate more than 68,000 students.
The programme also questions Mr Mortenson's financial relationship with the charity.
The charity has answered the questions put to it by the programme in a statement posted on its website.