Image credit: Empathic Perspectives (and I am so hoping this is photoshopped....)
As to how big a deal Greg Mortenson had become? Nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 and 2010 by members of Congress. Your president gave him $100,000 from his Nobel Peace Prize funds. Three Cups of Tea, Mortensen's first book and bestselling memoir, helped to found and raise $60M USD for the Central Asia Institute. Some of that money came from kids and schools. One of my GAL kids gave money because she thought it was "the Christian thing to do." (Like kids in foster care have money to burn???? “In 2009, schoolchildren donated $1.7 million to Pennies for Peace. But CAI’s total 2009 outlay for the things P4P is supposed to pay for—teachers’ salaries, student scholarships, school supplies, basic operating expenses—amounted to a paltry $612,000." - Jon Krakauer) People who could ill afford it gave to this cause. And they were burned. Money from those funds was evidently funneled directly into promoting Mortensen's books under the guise of such promotion being "outreach" and "fundraising". Some of that fundraising was travel, which required private jets, of course. ("In 2009 CAI spent more than $1 million to promote sales of Three Cups of Tea and Stones Into Schools, and another $1.4 million to fly Mortenson around in chartered jets.” - Michelle Goldberg) Profits from the sales of the books do not go to the CAI, however. Did I mention Mortensen's nice spread in Bozeman yet? I'm sure you get the picture.
Yes, he founded and supported, with his voice, a magnificent cause.
But let me tell you, if you read Krakauer's article, it also supported him.
Let us hope that the magnificent cause survives the storm. Because it will be a travesty if Greg Mortensen's future of possible fraud charges (a rolling stone, when sticky gathers moss) impacts the public's trust for programs like those that CAI has promoted and been strongly associated with. Actually, agencies that had partnered with CAI are reportedly fleeing the association.
Who can blame them?