Monday, 18 April 2011

Three Cups of Tea author savaged by 60 Minutes

Mortenson in Pakistan
Oh dear! Greg Mortenson, who shot to fame with the publication of his best-seller Three Cups of Tea, has had a bit of a thrashing from CBS's 60 Minutes.
They began investigating complaints from former donors, board members, staff and charity regulators about the way Mortenson runs the Central Asia Institute. They say there are "serious questions about how millions of dollars have been spent, whether Mortenson is personally benefiting and whether some of the most dramatic and inspiring stories in his books are even true."
Mortenson, who charges $30,000 for each public speaking engagement, has sold millions of copies of his books. And yet, as a series of replies from the CAI trustees to questions asked by 60 Minutes has revealed, he often uses a private jet to fly between engagements. Last year CAI apparently spent more on Mortenson's travel costs - which it pays -  than on building schools.
In addition, it appears that stories about him being kidnapped by the Taliban are untrue, as are stories about how villagers nursed him back to health on his descent from K2, the tallest mountain in Pakistan. Education officials at some schools in Pakistan reported to 60 Minutes that some of the schools built with CAI money are poorly constructed and that they have not heard from the charity for some time. Only 41 per cent of the money CAI spent in 2009 actually went to schools in Pakistan or Afghanistan. It was all too good to be true.

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