Greg Mortenson - Three Cups of Tea & One Village at a Time

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In summary, Greg Mortenson is an American humanitarian, author, and co-founder of the Central Asia Institute and Pennies for Peace. He is best known for his book "Three Cups of Tea" which details his journey to build schools in remote areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan and promote peace through education. Despite controversy surrounding the accuracy of the book, Mortenson's efforts have resulted in the construction of over 200 schools, providing education to thousands of children in the region. He continues to work through his organization, now known as the Central Asia Institute, to empower communities and promote education as a means to combat poverty and extremism.
  • #1
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I recently came across a book entitled Three Cups of Tea. It's a story about an American who is bound and determined to change the world in a positive way. He runs a program of which I plan to support.

Greg Mortenson (bio as of August 2008)

Greg Mortenson is the co-founder of the nonprofit Central Asia Institute, Pennies For Peace, and co-author of New York Times bestseller ‘Three Cups of Tea’, which has been a # 1 New York Times bestseller for 82 weeks since its January 2007 release, and was Time Magazine Asia Book of The Year.

On August 14th, 2008, Pakistan’s government announced on its Independence Day, that Greg Mortenson will receive Pakistan’ highest civil award, Sitara-e-Pakistan (“Star of Pakistan”) for his courage and humanitarian effort to promote education, and literacy in rural areas for the last fifteen years. Pakistan’s President will confer the award on March 23rd, 2009, in a official ceremony in Islamabad.

Mortenson was born in Minnesota in 1957. He grew up on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania (1958 to 1973). His father Dempsey, co-founded Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center (KCMC) ([/url]), a teaching hospital, and his mother, Jerene, founded the International School Moshi ( [url][/URL] )

He served in the U.S. Army in Germany during the Cold War (1977-1979), where he received the Army Commendation Medal, and later graduated from the University of South Dakota (1983), and pursued graduate studies in neurophysiology.[/quote]

On July 24th, 1992, while Greg was on a climb in the, his youngest sister, Christa, died from a massive seizure after a lifelong struggle with epilepsy on the eve of a trip to visit Dysersville, Iowa, where the baseball movie, ‘Field of Dreams’, was filmed in a cornfield.

In 1993, to honor his sister’s memory, Mortenson climbed Pakistan’s K2, the world’s second highest mountain in the Karakoram range.

Greg made to within 600 m of the summit, but had to give up. Meanwhile another climber experienced pulmonary edema, and Greg and another climber were tasked to get him down to a lower elevation where he could be rescued by helicopter. After the rescue, Greg decided to head home, but on the way back to civilzation, Greg got lost on the Baltoro glacier. He eventually found a small village, Korphe, where the village head took him in.

One day while recuperating in Korphe, Mortenson encountered a group of children sitting in the dirt, writing with sticks in the sand, and he made a promise to help them build a school. From that rash promise, grew a remarkable humanitarian campaign, in which Mortenson has dedicated his life to promote education, especially for girls, in remote regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

As of 2008, Mortenson has established over 78 schools in rural and often volatile regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan, which provide education to over 28,000 children, including 18,000 girls, where few education opportunities existed before.

[quote]His work has not been without difficulty. In 1996, he survived an eight day armed kidnapping in the Northwest Frontier Province NWFP tribal areas of Pakistan, escaped a 2003 firefight with feuding Afghan warlords by hiding for eight hours under putrid animal hides in a truck going to a leather-tanning factory. He has overcome two fatwehs from enraged Islamic mullahs, endured CIA investigations, and also received hate mail and death threats from fellow Americans after 9/11, for helping Muslim children with education.

Mortenson is a living hero to rural communities of Afghanistan and Pakistan, where he has gained the trust of Islamic leaders, military commanders, government officials and tribal chiefs from his tireless effort to champion education, especially for girls.

He is one of few foreigners who has worked extensively for fifteen years (spending over 67 months) in the region now considered the front lines of the war on terror.[/quote]

[PLAIN] - Journey of Hope;id=10946

Another Way To Stop Terrorism

Hope is an emotional state, a belief in a positive outcome even in the face of contrary evidence.
Hope often opposes despair, such as a village plagued by poverty that invests in a school.
- Karin Ronnow

For those wanting to make a positive difference in the world, Greg Mortenson is a stellar example.
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  • #2
I have heard of Penny's for Peace, but really had no idea of its founder, or the ordeals he went through. I am very impressed with all he has accomplished.
His website has some great photos.
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  • #3
Mortenson addressed the Commonwealth Club on Sept. 24 earlier this year.

There is another literacy program in Pakistan - Developments in Literacy (DIL). - but it serves areas south of the Northern Areas where Mortenson's program focuses its efforts. has some very interesting programs.
  • #5
I'm hoping that Greg Mortenson wins the Nobel Peace prize this year for his work education and womens' programs in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia. He should have won last year or in 2007. He has certainly done more than those two recipients.
  • #6
Greg Mortenson is being accused of fraud. 60 minutes is doing an expose of him sunday night.

NEW YORK – A "60 Minutes" investigation alleges that the inspirational multimillion seller "Three Cups of Tea" is filled with inaccuracies and that co-author Greg Mortenson's charitable organization has taken credit for building schools that don't exist.

The report, which airs Sunday night on CBS television, cites "Into the Wild" author Jon Krakauer as among the doubters of Mortenson's story of being lost in 1993 while mountain climbing in rural Pakistan and stumbling upon the village of Korphe, where the kindness of local residents inspired him to build a school. The "60 Minutes" story draws upon observations from the porters who joined Mortenson on his mountain trip in Pakistan and dispute his being lost. They say he only visited Korphe a year later.

The "60 Minutes" report alleges that numerous schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan that Mortenson's Central Asia Institute is said to have established either don't exist or were built by others. According to the CAI's website, the institute has "successfully established over 170 schools" and helped educate over 68,000 students, with an emphasis on girls' education.";_ylt=AhcuDR.tx._19G_efzIclt5Y24cA;_ylu=X3oDMTNndTdqZ3JuBGFzc2V0A2FwLzIwMTEwNDE2L3VzX2Jvb2tzX3RocmVlX2N1cHNfb2ZfdGVhBGNjb2RlA21wX2VjXzhfMTAEY3BvcwMxMARwb3MDMTAEc2VjA3luX3RvcF9zdG9yaWVzBHNsawNyZXBvcnR0aHJlZWM-
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  • #7
Evo said:
Greg Mortenson is being accused of fraud. 60 minutes is doing an expose of him sunday night.;_ylt=AhcuDR.tx._19G_efzIclt5Y24cA;_ylu=X3oDMTNndTdqZ3JuBGFzc2V0A2FwLzIwMTEwNDE2L3VzX2Jvb2tzX3RocmVlX2N1cHNfb2ZfdGVhBGNjb2RlA21wX2VjXzhfMTAEY3BvcwMxMARwb3MDMTAEc2VjA3luX3RvcF9zdG9yaWVzBHNsawNyZXBvcnR0aHJlZWM-

I was hoping to read it ...
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  • #8

Oh this makes me so sad and disappointed, if it turns out to be true!
  • #9

I suppose nothing is really settled yet and there still could be surprises, but let's assume the accusations turn out to be true.
I would still feel some admiration and even (if you can believe it) thankfulness that we have a hero-stereotype floating around who is "peace corp" instead of a military and secular instead of saintly.

I think it's not unusual for a recognized hero to be partly the creation of that person's own imagination.

I think of TE Lawrence, whose inspiring example was in part a literary construction---even if he acted out every scene he describes he was still consciously inventing himself as an inspiring figure: a hero.

I have no idea whether Lawrence, say, or Che Guevara, was partly bogus or completely authentic, but I like this guy that Greg Mortensen made up and tried to be. I like that guy BETTER than those warrior heros. Because I'm fed up with warrior heros.

So I say good luck to Mortensen and it was a good try and if it turns out to have been partly fake, well I hope he doesn't suffer dire consequences or feel too bad about it. Hopefully he hasn't done anything worse than what they already accuse him of.
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  • #10

We might run into purely speculative discussion so I will wait for the things to unfold before I question about the donations he received. There have been some concerns that most of the money/donations/resources going into Afghanistan are not properly utilized (I linked a report in some thread here).
  • #11

Just watched 60 minutes, what they said is true, from what they showed and interviews with the people where the supposed schools are.

Mortenson refused to talk to 60 minutes, so they showed up at a hotel where he was scheduled to give a talk, and he called hotel security on them, 60 minutes was told to wait in the lobby for him or one of his aids. Instead Mortenson canceled his talk and snuck out of the back of the hotel. Oh yeah, he's legit. :rolleyes:

They said that even though he hasn't done what he's claimed, at least his talks have brought awareness of the problems in those countries, (and big bucks in his pockets, no doubt).
  • #12
I heard about it last night. I'm really bummed about this.

It's not clear what he has or has not done - so I'm reserving judgement until I see the 60 Minutes program and read statements by Mortenson and others.

Statement attributed to Jon Krakauer by CBS
Krakauer: He's not Bernie Madoff. I mean, let's be clear. He has done a lot of good. He has helped thousands of school kids in Pakistan and Afghanistan...He has become perhaps the world's most effective spokesperson for girls' education in developing countries. And he deserves credit for that...Nevertheless, he is now threatening to bring it all down, to destroy all of it by this fraud and by these lies.

Mortenson does look well fed, and he does seem to travel a lot in the US. :frown:

I find it a bit disconcerting that 'over the years', staff members and board members have resigned over concerns that Mortenson has misused funds ostensibly for his personal benefit, as opposed to direct support to the charity.

And this only comes out now.
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  • #13
I also doubt the likelihood of someone coming out of Afghanistan alive after opening 78 schools. This statement should have been questioned two years ago when he published his book:
78 schools in rural and often volatile regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan, which provide education to over 28,000 children, including 18,000 girls
Attacks Statistics (I couldn't find anything for recent years):
In Afghanistan, the Taliban has led a vicious campaign to prevent children – especially girls – from receiving an education. They have attacked schoolgirls with acid,6 killed teachers and workers from non-governmental organisations,7 and closed schools. Between January 2005 and June 2006 alone, there were 204 attacks on schools, teachers, and students.8
In total, more than a million girls are now at school in Afghanistan.

More girls are now attending school in Afghanistan than in the decade before the Taleban introduced its ban on female education.

Several hundred women have also taken the entrance exams required for admission to the University of Kabul. However, there is shortage of trained teachers at every level of education.

I would provide credit to the military presence which is providing secure environment to carry out these reforms.
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  • #14

I wonder if the Nobel Committee had some inkling of this...meh, who knows. Pure speculation.
  • #15
BBC report:

Yet despite the CAI's protestations, few dispute that the local operation of Mr Mortenson's charity sometimes appears to take on a chaotic character.


Local leaders in some of the remote and poverty-stricken communities, where Greg Mortenson has established a presence, have voiced their support for him.

"Imagine if the money had been given to the Afghan government or contractors - it would not have been built!" the worker, who wished to remain unnamed, said.
  • #16
Anyone interested might want to take advantage of a free download, it's only available for 72 hours. Today is the last day.

Three Cups of Deceit

How Greg Mortenson, Humanitarian Hero, Lost His Way

Greg Mortenson has built a global reputation as a selfless humanitarian and children’s crusader, and he’s been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. He is also not what he appears to be. As acclaimed author Jon Krakauer discovered, Mortenson has not only fabricated substantial parts of his bestselling books Three Cups of Tea and Stones into Schools, but has also misused millions of dollars donated by unsuspecting admirers like Krakauer himself.

This is the tragic tale of good intentions gone very wrong.
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Related to Greg Mortenson - Three Cups of Tea & One Village at a Time

1. Who is Greg Mortenson?

Greg Mortenson is an American humanitarian, adventurer, and author. He is best known for his book "Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace... One School at a Time" and for co-founding the non-profit organization Central Asia Institute (CAI).

2. What is "Three Cups of Tea" about?

"Three Cups of Tea" is a book written by Greg Mortenson and journalist David Oliver Relin. It tells the story of Mortenson's journey to build schools in remote areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan, and how he was inspired by the kindness and generosity of the people he met.

3. How did Mortenson start his mission?

Mortenson's mission began in 1993 when he attempted to climb K2, the world's second tallest mountain, in Pakistan. After failing to reach the summit, he stumbled into the village of Korphe where he was welcomed and cared for by the villagers. In return, he promised to build a school for the children of the village.

4. Has Mortenson's work been successful?

Yes, Mortenson's work has been very successful. Since the publication of "Three Cups of Tea" in 2006, CAI has built over 200 schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan, providing education to over 80,000 students, including girls who were previously denied an education. Mortenson's work has also helped to improve relationships between the United States and the people of Central Asia.

5. Has Mortenson faced any controversy?

Yes, Mortenson has faced controversy surrounding the accuracy of some of the events described in his book and the financial management of CAI. In 2011, a 60 Minutes investigation revealed discrepancies in Mortenson's story and raised questions about the use of CAI funds. Mortenson and CAI have made changes and improvements in response to these criticisms.

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