The Complexities of Help

My experiences as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Sierra Leone in the 1970s, my work there and subsequently with a variety of NGOs, a graduate degree in International Education, my later travel to various needy spots in the world, my work as an educator, and my observations of the way well-intended outsiders (adults and children) respond to humanitarian issues world-wide has made me very aware of the complexities of help. And so reading Jon Krakauer’s piece on Greg Mortenson had me saddened to see such well intentions go so far astray, but also hopeful that it will be a wake-up call to others who mean well and want to help.


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3 responses to “The Complexities of Help

  1. I just watched the 60-Minutes clip, and can’t understand why he felt to need to embellish so much, when there was already a compelling story there.

    So sad.


    • It is sad. And it isn’t just the reworking of the story, but the way he ran the organization as well. I find it an important cautionary for those who want to do good in other parts of the world.


  2. Mark Flowers

    Reading Mortenson’s explanations/excuses here:, I have sneaking suspicion that what happened was that he told a somewhat exaggerated version of his story to his co-writer, and the co-writer then exaggerated it even more. Not that that excuses him, but it seems to make the most sense of what happened.

    As to his running of his business, I don’t think there’s any excuse there.


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