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A Quick Word On Three Cups of Tea & CAI

Because one of the most popular features on this blog is my page pointing to study guides for Greg Mortenson’s book Three Cups of Tea, I feel I have a responsibility to comment on the recent stories claiming fraud both in the writing of his books and in the management of his Central Asia Institute.

My conclusions based on reading through the resources cited at the end of this blog entry:

  1. Greg Mortenson made up stuff in Three Cups of Tea, including how he decided to start building schools in Pakistan/Afghanistan.
  2. The Central Asia Institute isn’t as successful at building and maintaining schools as it says.
  3. The Central Asia Institute DOES build and maintain some schools.
  4. A donation to the Central Asia Institute is more likely to go to promote Mortenson’s books than to build and maintain schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
  5. The Central Asia Institute’s current level of transparency and accountability is not acceptable. If you’re interested in education in this area of the world, consider a different charity. The American Institute of Philanthropy has a list at http://www.charitywatch.org/hottopics/help-afghan-pakistani-children.html

I still believe in the premise of Three Cups of Tea – that we get further by partnering with people to educate girls and boys than we do by blowing up villages in the hopes of knocking off a few insurgents. But I don’t think that supporting the Central Asia Institute is the way to do it — even though some of their schools are real.

Sources:

American Institute of Philanthropy Charitywatch article on the Central Asia Institute at http://charitywatch.org/articles/CentralAsiaInstitute.html.

Questions over Greg Mortenson’ Stories. 60 Minutes (4/15/2011) http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/04/15/60minutes/main20054397.shtml

Central Asia Institute response to 60 Minutes Questions (Confirms they don’t share in book royalties and doesn’t specifically document Mortenson’s donations.) http://www.cbsnews.com/htdocs/pdf/CAIState.pdf

American Institute of Philanthrophy Hot Topics page http://charitywatch.org/hottopics/hottopics.html

 Questions Linger Over ‘Three Cups of Tea’ Author Mortenson’s Tales, Charity PBS NewsHour (4/22/2011) http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/media/jan-june11/3cupsoftea_04-22.html

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One Response

  1. Thank you for this. My mom and sister read the 3 cups book and then gave it to me to read. I did get the guide from your site. I’m sorry this was scammy, but do agree we need to educate people, not kill them and support Blackwater/Xe psychotic killer types.

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