Letter from Greg Mortensen
Sunday April 17th 2011, 9:07 pm
Filed under: History

Greg Mortensen, author of Stones into Schools and co-author of Three Cups of Tea, sent out an email today in response to the 60 Minutes show that was about to air. If you’re interested, that email is here in his Message to Supporters. He responds to the written questions exactly as they were given him by the show only late last week, not knowing what they might say on air.  Hopefully all publicity is good publicity, and if in the end it improves the organization in some way if it needs it, all to the good.

His Central Asia Institute has provided education to 60,000 people so far in remote areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan that previously had no schools or at best, madrassas, and aims particularly to provide opportunities for women; his aim is to build CAI up to the point that it is self-sustaining whether he is in the picture or not.  Some of the donations that 60 Minutes seemed to be implying he was not spending on the schools, CAI was banking to be able to pay the schools’ ongoing costs into the foreseeable future and to be able to build more schools.

He is having heart surgery this week. I fervently wish him well. The world needs the work of peace and empowerment that he has devoted his life to.


Ed. to add in response to my Dad: I did read the Bozeman Montana paper’s and the New York Times’ stories on him last night, which had quite a bit of criticism; the Bozeman one quotes their reporter, who did not work on that story but has covered Mortenson for years, as saying, “Greg is difficult to work with, he’s stretched too thin, but he is not a liar.” I’ve now read the transcript of the 60 Minutes piece as well as Mortenson’s rebuttals.

If 60 Minutes is right and indeed only 41% of the donations currently go directly to the schools, I would ask: and what percentage of our war dollars in Afghanistan has created a lasting chance towards peace through goodwill and empowerment of the poor and illiterate? Especially, the women? What other game is there in town? I’ll go with Mortenson any day, and if the scrutiny tightens up the financial end, then all to the good.

6 Comments so far
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I hope the surgery goes quickly and well for him, too.

Comment by twinsetellen 04.18.11 @ 5:17 am

Prayers for him and for those caring for him.

Comment by Channon 04.18.11 @ 5:51 am

Before defending him you should use your computer to see if you can see the 60 Minutes program. I am reminded of a certain Utah Congressman, Doug Stringfellow, many years ago, who was unmasked by your grandfather, among others. I would expect Mortensen to defend himself, but the program on TV appears to be well researched, and the important parts dealing with money were not responded to in the link giving his response to 60 Minutes. He has done good and deserves credit, but. . .

Comment by Dad 04.18.11 @ 8:10 am

I think that if the story causes the organization to be more open about HOW the money is spent, it serves a purpose. Informed decision making is a good thing. Of course, I wish the man himself well, esp. re his health issues, regardless of the every popular “money trail”.

Comment by Ruth 04.18.11 @ 11:51 am

I’m naturally suspicious when it comes to public money, or charitable giving. I also know that, with the best will in the world, sometimes the actual cash gets diverted, shall we say, leaving a much smaller amount of good than was originally planned. Who does the diverting is as important as the diversion itself (did you read the editorial on Cambodia in the Washington Post?). I wish him well, and I believe he is doing good work, but he definitely needs help and, perhaps, a harder and more careful approach to funds.

Comment by Patricia Day 04.18.11 @ 4:05 pm

I thought I remember him saying in the first book that money management wasn’t his strong suit, and in fact, I believe several members of the CAI board said the same thing. I’m hoping that he recovers quickly from surgery, and that CAI continues, perhaps with better money management.

Comment by Serena Rother 04.18.11 @ 6:30 pm

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