Greg Mortenson, the 6-foot tall, soft-spoken (born December 27, 1957) is an American professional speaker, writer, veteran, and former mountaineer. He is a co-founder and former executive director of the non-profit Central Asia Institute and the founder of the educational charity Pennies for Peace. A former mountain climber who, after a failed effort to climb the world’s second-highest mountain, K2, began building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. He had traveled for years in Pakistan and Afghanistan and built his first school in rural Pakistan in 1996.
He was a visionary. Anyone who despairs of the individual’s power to change lives has to read the story of Greg Mortenson. It’s an example of how in the midst of your own misery you find a way to be a rescuer for so many other less fortunate people. His journey of being a pioneer of Women Education in remote areas of Pakistan & Afghanistan started when he promised to set up a school for the children of Korphe, a small village of Baltistan in Pakistan. He faced many challenges and criticism in the two decades of his service.
Mortenson won fame as a humanitarian who built hundreds of schools in Afghanistan. Four-star U.S. generals sought his advice on Afghan tribal dynamics. President Obama donated $100,000 of his Nobel Prize winnings to Mortenson’s charity. Former president Bill Clinton praised him. Four million people bought his book.
Life after retirement
He retired in 2015. But, his organization Central Asia Institute is still flowing to pursue education. It is open for nomads, refugees, pre-school-age children, and individuals with special needs; implementing and expanding teacher training courses; supporting women’s entrepreneurship; giving young women access to higher education by way of CAI’s scholarship program; and much more. It has 451 projects operating in three countries and helped more than 98,000 individuals in 2015 alone Mortenson was caught up in the controversies of fabricating incidents in his book “Three cups of tea” and accused of financial mismanagement of his charity. On the April 17, 2011 broadcast of CBS News‘ 60 Minutes, correspondent Steve Kroft alleged inaccuracies in Mortenson’s books Three Cups of Tea and its sequel, Stones into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books, Not Bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan as well as financial improprieties in the operation of the Central Asia Institute
No matter how fake or controversial could be his character but yet it gives many of us a vision to stand for the underprivileged majority.
Therefore, he was right that building schools tend to promote stability more than dropping bombs. According to him the transformative power of education was endless. He was right about the need to listen to local people.