Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Really, is it true? Did Mortenson go to Korphe in 93 or 94? Who cares?

How many of you saw the expose on 60 minutes about Greg Mortenson and the Central Asia Institute? I just did and my heart is saddened. Saddened not because of the inconsistencies in his stories (really, do you believe someone being interviewed would admit to being part of the Taliban?), but because of the impact this story will have on organizations trying to make a difference in the world, especially when it comes to helping improve the lives of children.

I read Three Cups of Tea shortly after I returned from Nepal in 2006. A co-worker had read it as part of her book club and was overwhelmed by the story, a story of one man's promise to build a school for an impoverished town in Pakistan. It was this story that inspired me to host a fundraiser for 'my kids' in Nepal and to continue to this day to do my small part. So does this expose change how I feel about helping people half a world away? No, it doesn't. It actually bolsters my resolve to continue supporting organizations and causes that I feel are truly committed to doing the right thing, and in the grand scheme of things, I believe Greg Mortenson and CAI are committed to doing just that. They've had their problems, this is not new. And not to say that they shouldn't do things differently, like at least get some of the royalties from book sales - geez! But this situation also reminds me that you can never be too sure. Do your homework on an organization if at all possible. Charity Navigator gave CAI fours stars and states 'As we prefer to deal with facts and data, and not rumors and accusations, we do not feel it would be appropriate to downgrade a charity's rating simply based on a media report." Read their full report here which includes Greg Mortenson's and CAI's responses to the allegations (under Donor advisory) at http://blog.charitynavigator.org/2011/04/cbs-and-central-asia-institute.html

Let's keep the faith,

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