The book by Greg Mortenson entitled “Three Cups of Tea” has inspired a lot of people to get into, or at least consider, doing humanitarian and development work.
Here’s a post from the popular anonymous aid/development worker who blogs as Tales From the Hood, a person who does this kind of work but isn’t at all inspired by Mortenson. In fact, he/she is highly irritated by the book. An excerpt from the post Three Shots of Vodka:
In my heart of hearts, I wish that Three Cups of Tea was a realistic description of aid work. Actually, you know what? Right now I’d actually settle for it being a partially accurate description of aid work.
But Three Cups of Tea is not a realistic description. It does not paint an accurate picture.
The reality of aid work is that it is a lot of test and spreadsheet bitchery. It is a lot of hunching over a laptop computer, late at night in sweltering heat (or bitter cold) banging out a report to satisfy a needy internal constituent who fails to understand the context. It is a lot of meeting donor reporting deadlines in particular donor formats. It is a lot of arguing with people who see the world very differently. It is a lot of trying to understand, and then explain why things have not gone as planned.