Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Some significant voices defending Greg Mortensen

The problem with all the discussion about Greg Mortensen’s failures has been the eagerness with which his work has been debunked whereas the picture seems not to be as black and white as it was portrayed in the “60 Minutes” exposé. Evidently some schools were built as Mortensen claims.
Radio Free Europe found
“some surprising backers who have come forward to praise Mortenson. One of them is a local politician in Pakistan's northern Gilgit-Baltistan region who originally fiercely opposed Mortenson's work.

In "Three Cups of Tea," Imran Nadim Shigri is described as an influential political figure who backed a conservative Shi'ite cleric's religious decree against the CAI's school-building.

Shigri has confirmed that Mortenson did build schools in the remote valleys of his native Baltistan. He could not recall the exact number of schools built by the CAI but said that in the remote Braldu Valley he had personally supervised the handover of five of Mortenson's school buildings to the government, which is now providing teachers and funds to run them.

Shigri says Mortenson's heart was in the right place but that the main problem was his lack of management skills, because Mortenson trusted some local people who misguided him and overinflated building costs.

Shigri also faults Mortenson for focusing largely on building infrastructure without concentrating on the education that would be provided in these buildings. "He only focused on constructing schools. He failed to ensure their sustainability and [proper] management," he says. "He also failed to ensure a high quality of education in these institutions." …

Across the border in Afghanistan, Gul Zaman, governor of the remote Naray district in insurgency-plagued eastern Konar Province, says that three of Mortenson's schools are already working in his district while one more is being built.
In the settlement of Saw alone, Zaman says, "around 700 to 800 boys and girls benefit" from the local school and there are also "200 to 300" pupils enrolled at each of the schools in Samarak and Suna Gala.

On its website, the CAI lists eight schools in Konar and in a recent U.S. television interview, Mortenson claimed to have built 11 schools in the province.
But Zaman says that two of the schools named by the CAI were actually built by a NATO provincial reconstruction team. Zaman's statement was verified by Syed Jamaluddin Hassani, head of Konar's education department.

That the schools are not all being used should surprise no one.

This is not to say that Mortensen's evident distortions of truth should be condoned, merely that some honest achievements did take place even as some embarrassing distortions of truth were used to attract funds. It was a betrayal of all the interested parties -- of Mortensen himself, even, as well as all the rest.

The tragedy for all of us is that we fail more often than we want anyone else to know. Mortensen's failures are now hung out for all to see. We can all be glad "60 Minutes" doesn't think our lies are worth exposing. Sometimes telling the truth can be costly, but in the end the price of not telling the truth can surpass all attempts at restitution.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Kindness in Korphe

(to the tune of Friday by Rebecca Black)
Petition in musical form to Jon Krakauer and Greg Mortenson to make peace, and invest restitution for refunded donations into nonprofit work to rescue women and children from trafficking and Asia, especially to train more teachers for the students to go to school)

Climbing K2, getting lost in the mountains
Gotta get back, gotta get up there
Do it for Christa, honor my sister
Lost 'Angrezi'*, face is freezing
Trekking on and on, Found (God willing)
Gotta get back to the Vill-age
Where they welcomed me
With three cups of tea:

First sip, you're a new guest
Second time, you're good friends
When you take your third cup
Now you're family!

In Korphe, someday
Gonna build a school in Korphe
80 kids in the village need a building, here in,
Korphe, some way
Gotta get back to Korphe
Education is the key to end oppression

Pennies for Peace pouring in
Pennies for Peace pouring in
One cent, fifty cents
Children helping kids in Pakistan

Truck full of stuck, but I'm stuck at the river
Gotta build a bridge,
that'll take more time (forever!)
More funds? Where to get funds?
Right back at square one!
Impatient *"foreign man"
Got to stop and breathe
I can't fail at this plan!
Please God, help me

They need a school in Kuardu
And a bridge in Skardu
I'm just a poor man
Where do I begin?

In Korphe, Korphe
Gonna open up new doorways
First a bridge and then a school
for children, here in
Korphe, where they
Touched my heart in more ways
Education is the key to end oppression

Pennies for peace pouring in
Pennies for peace pouring in
Ten cents, small dents
Helping kids across Afghanistan

Who knows where I was kidnapped
Between the heartbreaks and the hard facts
But the children, they're so excited
To have a blackboard
Inside their own classroom
They dream of medical school
And building, a hospital ...
Not writing with sticks in the sand!

From New York to Norway
Kick bullying out the doorway
Charity can change the world
From here to Pakistan

The kindness in Korphe
Can touch the world in more ways
Forgiveness is the key to end division

First step, you're a new guest
Second time, you're good friends
One act of love can
Save humanity!

-- for Jon Krakauer and Greg Mortenson
also Rebecca Black and the students at
school who bullied her to drop out.
May we find better ways to work together
creatively to help others instead of wasting
resources fighting each other. Peace to all!