• Report: #931848

Complaint Review: the International Humanity Foundation

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  • Submitted: Thu, August 23, 2012
  • Updated: Mon, November 19, 2012

  • Reported By: Bilgincan — United States of America
the International Humanity Foundation
4311 Pavlov Ave. san Diego, California United States of America

the International Humanity Foundation Abusing Donations, 501c Status and Kenyan Orphans san Diego, California

*UPDATE Employee: Reaction to bad comments about IHF

*UPDATE Employee: Official answer from Carol Sasaki, IHF CEO

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On March 12th, 2009 I started volunteering at an American-owned orphanage in Kenya. On April 13th, we wrote the letter you will find below. The problems at the orphanage were so fundamental that we believed it best to shut down the orphanage and transfer the children to more respectable institutions.

For 6 months, I did everything in my power to achieve our goal. Contacted government agencies/NGOs/the media, set up websites, spammed donors with the facts...In the short-run, the results were disappointing. The Kenyan delegation that visited the orphanage thought it was sufficient that the orphanage buildings were re-painted. The prominent Kenyan journalist to whom I had given an interview asked for a bribe to publish the story. The donors got mad at me for sending them an email! The California Attorney General's Office and the Internal Revenue Service did not write me a single line back. [continued below]....
....... Realizing that there was nothing more I could do, I dropped the case.

On July 5th, 2011 I received an email while doing my mandatory military service in an Eastern Turkish city. A fellow volunteer was giving me the great news that the orphanage had been shut down! I had goosebumps. Unfortunately, I received another email today from a new recruit (or should I say victim) who is getting ready to make his way to the orphanage. Looks like our friends are back in business! Also having watched the Whistleblower last night, I have decided to publish our letter one more time...

Dear Current/Prospective Sponsors, Volunteers and Staff,

We are writing you this letter to share a set of facts about the International Humanity Foundation (IHF) with you. A set that especially concerns their Nakuru Center in Kenya... However, we must admit that we will concentrate on the dominant negative aspects, rather than the positive ones, which have been outlined on various websites in detail. The professional design of the IHF website (www.ihfonline.org) and the fact that there are insufficient amounts of critical commentary on the web caused every single one of us to be deceived. All of us had the best intentions in joining IHF. Helping the poor, donating our time and money for a good cause, learning about orphans We are certain that you do too. Just like yours, our major problem was the lack of information. Please review the list of issues below carefully. We do not want you to suffer the intense disappointment that every one of us and many before us have had.

GENERAL ISSUES REGARDING IHF:

IHF has collected money for projects that do not exist. Although there are 6 sponsored classes on the website, there had been no class taught at the Nakuru Center, at least for the past 4 months. As a result of this dire fact, that volunteers could not teach. The Survival program (animal donations) has been sharing the same fate as the classes, at least for the past 3 months. Since December 08, more than USD 8,000 has been donated for the purchase of 218 goats, 188 chickens, 5 camels, 6 calves and 3 cows, of which none were bought, at least until the end of April.

The lack of structure and the lack of professionalism are mind-blowing. Nobody seems to know anything and it is a grand puzzle to figure out who has the more reliable information, if anyone actually does. For instance, the Sponsor Letters Team kept asking for letters from kids who had not been at the Center for some months. We received an email from one of the officers asking us to go to Pokot (where most of our kids are from) and buy hundreds of animals, yet nobody could tell us whom was to receive the animals and when the necessary funds would be wired etc.

GENERAL ISSUES REGARDING THE CENTER:

The Nakuru Center does not even have a government license, because it does not meet the Kenyan requirements. The Childrens Department was planning to shut down the Center until renovations took place, the land was properly fenced and there was a 1:1 bed to child ratio. Instead of undertaking these vital projects, IHF responded by asking a high-ranking local government contact to intervene. The Children's Department changed its mind instantaneously.

The Center neither has a mailbox nor a phone number. This is why the post office has told us that they will not hand over the next donation parcel that we receive, until we become the owner of our own mailbox. Moreover, we never had phone numbers for IHF officers.

The Center is dangerous. Last week, a drunk man with a machete paid us a visit and threatened us. After we had no choice but to give him the money, he trespassed through our land and out of the main gate. The guard just watched. Both the volunteers/staffs and the kids lives are in danger.

Even when there is a slight disagreement with a volunteer or staff, the respective person is automatically threatened with being fired. When top management is serious about a persons leaving, they do not even give the person 24 hours. Threats to send the police over follow.

FINANCIAL ISSUES:

The Center is under-funded. Current fencing could not prevent anyone from entering the premises. It is difficult to distinguish the buildings from ruins; half of the kitchen building has been taken over by rats; one of the four buildings is in such bad shape that it is impossible to use it without a thorough renovation. Windows are broken; toilets leak; many locks are missing. Kids eat the same food every day; most of the week they only get tea for breakfast. There is not enough personnel to take care of the younger kids; hence they play in dirt all day long, like street children. Younger children always wear torn up clothes and do not even have a ball to play with etc. Most importantly, this situation has nothing to do with the lack of funding. The Foundation receives sufficient fund but does not transfer the necessary amount to Kenya.

The insufficient amount of money that officers sent for the month of April, came in late. There were days when there was no money to feed the kids.When the Director asked for monthly funds, first an officer made various excuses, including asking for all the sponsor letters when all had already been sent and stating that her month starts on the 10th although she had sent money on the 4th the previous month. Then, the officer demanded a 13-year-old to approve the directors budget. It is bogus as to who supervises whom.

Due to irregular dates of payment, the staff could not pay their expenses for April on time. Hence, volunteers had to loan them money so that they could pay their rents.

CHILDRENS ISSUES:

IHF is not the legal guardian of all of the kids living at the Center. Most of these kids are not orphans.

When we first came, there was not even a list of all the kids living here. IHF neither knew the exact number of children, nor their legal names.Child pregnancy is a major issue at the Nakuru Center. Due to insufficient supervision, there have been at least 2 child pregnancies in the past 2 years. In both cases, the mother and the father have been residents of the Center. Baby Caros mother was 13 when she gave birth.

The older kids are disrespectful, because an officer encourages them to report on the staff whenever a staff member does something that the children do not like. For example, if a staff member attempts to enforce some disciplinary rules her punishment may be getting fired. Consequently, the children experience a free-fall, which makes them not only disrespectful but also spoiled.

Exit strategies do not exist. Once the kids reach the age of 18 they need to leave the Center, as mandated by the government. However, when they reach this stage, their only options are returning to their families in one of the least-developed districts of Kenya or pacing the streets of a city.

We wish you better luck than what we have had...

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 08/23/2012 11:59 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/the-International-Humanity-Foundation/san-Diego-California-92122/the-International-Humanity-Foundation-Abusing-Donations-501c-Status-and-Kenyan-Orphans-s-931848. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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#1 UPDATE Employee

Reaction to bad comments about IHF

AUTHOR: Thibault - (Indonesia)

I have been working as a volunteer co-director in IHF for almost a year now. I spend most of my time in IHF Jakarta Center but have been assigned to some overseas missions in our Kenyan center too. Honestly so far I am very satisfied with my experience in IHF.

In regards of above report would like to say that, when I was posted in IHF Kenya, the situation, although not perfect of course, had improved greatly in terms of hygiene, discipline and good governance. I can ensure and certify that the Survival and Famine program do exists, as I organized it myself when I was there, this was part of my duties. Please check by yourself: http://ihfblog.wordpress.com/2012/11/19/survival-and-famine-feed-program-october-2012/

I guess if the author of this video was not pro active enough to make this program happen; you must understand that a sense of initiative and responsibility is needed when doing volunteering, this is not holidays.

IHF is a volunteer based organization where people choose to give their time to help. There is no regular paid staff as we believe that all the donations must go directly towards the children and the programs we run in each of our centers. For this same reason the short-term volunteers and volunteer co-directors placed in each of our centers are dedicated people who offer up to a year of their lives to help and also to learn how an NGO works; hopefully becoming future leaders in the non-profit sector. It is our mission statement that half of IHF's mission is to educate the poor and the other half is to educate the world about the poor.

This learning process for volunteers is part of our "Pass it on" philosophy and also sometimes the reason for the mistakes we make, which are few compared to the achievements and meaningful help we provide to almost 3000 people in 3 different countries and 6 centers. But we are never afraid to recognize our mistakes as we believe is the only way to learn and move forward.

Besides the answer we just provided regarding above comments, please see for yourself our blog and social networks, so you can make up your own mind.

http://ihfblog.wordpress.com/
http://www.facebook.com/ihfonline
http://www.youtube.com/user/ihfonline
http://ihfblog.wordpress.com/category/press-review/

You can also contact us directly at ihf@ihfonline.org if you have any questions.

Thibault

IHF Co-Director
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#2 UPDATE Employee

Official answer from Carol Sasaki, IHF CEO

AUTHOR: International Humanity Foundation - (United States of America)

My name is Carol Sasaki. I am the CEO and Founder of a small all-volunteer organisation in Nakuru, Kenya. I am giving a chronology of my 14 years of work in the Republic of Kenya. I can assure you I have proof (both documentary and video) to support what I have outlined in the document and I take the public dissemination of this information extremely seriously.

In 1997, I began work on a very small project in the Kibete slum in Nairobi, providing lunch for children. I realized through this work that many of the children were orphans and so I decided to open an orphanage to help address their needs. During this time I was introduced to James Njaaga Njau a local business man running a safari tourist agency. He and his wife heard of my plans and offered to give me his land in Subukia, Nakuru, for the orphanage, explaining that he himself was an orphan.

I complied with all of necessary regulations to open this orphanage. James Njaaga wanted me to build the Orphange on his land that he had transferred to IHF. I declined to do so : knowing the history of problems in Kenya from the Kebete lunch project and instead first leased a home and put money into growing crops on the land he was donating. I had to put much money on the infrastructure and equipment for the leased center including buying of stoves, bunk beds, costly computers and classroom equipment and security fencing, fixing of buildings and rooms, fixing of van, proper irrigation system and the many other costs. Once opened, this IHF orphanage provided a home for nearly 200 children from the Nairobi slums and 50 from Subukia. As I interviewed the children I came to learn from questioning them in a gentle manner, that most the children were from Subukia and many not in need but told to lie.

Njaaga and his friend helping Muhia Maina wanted me to see more children in the East Central Pokot region in East Kenyan instead of processing other orphans and street children from Nairobi and paring it down to 100 total as I was insisting at that time due to too many over cost expenses from what they had all claimed. The communities I visited in East Pokot were indeed filled with many children who were chronically malnourished and in dire need of support. I met extensively with elders, not just chiefs, and began a very needed food relief program and sought donors to help with improving clean water and schooling.

Njaaga became quite angry about the amount of money I was spending on this rather than spending it exclusively on the Subukia orphanage. Muhia Maina had volunteered to Direct the Orphange while working with my IHF volunteers and the community. He gave number of references with UNESCO and city officials and Pokot chiefs all verified this work. Njaaga took me to meet with the new Police Chief in Nairobi and a high ranking official of Childrens services and an official dealing with our registration. When I politely addressed a bit about my concerns, all I met with assured me he was an outstanding individual. One official from the NGO board laughingly said he is so respected he may well end up Mayor of Nairobi someday. All was going forward and the government meetings seemed to go fine but small things felt like stop lights such as some robberies that didnt feel quite right and then Nakuru police coming and saying they dont have enough to safeguard us (after I had refused Njaagas insistence we must pay them direct bribes). Thus I had to pay for the police safeguard. But felt that beep inside so stopped doing any additional building and refused to take on additional children I simply could not afford to.

I was alarmed when many orphans had come without my prior permission and prior processing : not meeting our criteria of need. I knew it was time to politely and carefully end any IHF involvement with this donor if all being said was true and give him back his land and van both now greatly improved at much cost. Then two of our Volunteers and Director called me to fly back to Kenya immediately as James was coming drunk to the orphanage and brought very young prostitutes and you could hear the sex. Even the children could hear the volunteers said. I immediately flew out to end his involvement promptly.

When I arrived, an older sister he had raped opened up and others came forward after a series of events. I went to the police office and discussed my concerns. About his bringing prostitutes I met with a childrens officer the next day. They arranged for someone to come out to the orphanage but no one showed up. When I discussed the charges of his bringing prostitutes with James, he threatened that he could take all from me and from the children in a minute if he chose to and I best be careful in what I say (I did not yet address with him his sleeping with the girls as they were fearful of their lives).

He forbade me to do the food relief in Pokot the next day, stating he owned IHF Kenya Chapter and if I did not leave Kenya immediately I would find myself dropped in the desert and gang raped. I didnt believe this could be true and went ahead with the food relief. I was indeed dropped off in the desert in the middle of the night and waited to be gang raped as he had promised. Later one of Jamess friends slammed me into a wall and said beware my life and James himself said in front of many I will personally fuck you he produced a paper signed by the head of NGO with none of the board members we had discussed in our meeting, nor any IHF stamp yet stating he was owner and lifetime Chairman of Kenya chapter of IHF. The same police station I had gone to for help, over his coming to our orphanage too often drunk and bringing prostitutes to our orphanage, was now stating he was the owner of all including all our computers and wouldnt let us take even our owners claiming they too belonged to IHF Kenya Chapter so therefore him. I was told I should leave the orphanage and not return and if I did return I could well be killed by James Njaaga as he had promised. I received various additional warnings, both physical and verbal to this effect.

The Police and some government official with them stated that I would be arrested if I did not leave the property immediately, without any of the children (I was terrified to leave the girls that had told me bravely of his raping them and their sisters and of leaving those few children not from Subukia or Kibete). I knew these children were not safe. IHF Kenya chapter had been signed over to James Njaaga Njau, his driver, wife and Muhia Maina and friends signed by the head of all Kenya NGOs. I could not fathom how this could be possible no matter how corrupt any government : HOW??? I was still in the process of registering the orphanage under the name of IHF as a Kenyan non-governmental organization. I had so far received confirmation of the beginning of the process. The addition of these men had not been approved by the IHF board, had not even been discussed so it is unclear as to how approval was given for them to register under the IHF name.

As soon as I was out of the country, arriving in London, safe at a friends home, we wrote an official complaint to the Kenyan NGO board and others that very next day. Additionally my IHF board, lawyer and I filed an official compliant to the NGO Council of Kenya regarding this, as did my friends. All appalled that such a clearly illegal action could be signed by the head of NGOs behind our back ,without our approval, vote or even knowledge. Later, My Kenyan lawyer additionally followed up on these complaints only to be told they had ALL been lost. My lawyer then filed another complaint (which I am now told also became lost with all the other complaints)

The situation came to a horrible climax when James Njaagas men looted the orphanage, removed all computers , the most costly fixtures and equipment and put the children from Subukia/ Kebete into trucks and dropped them back in the slums of Nairobi or other cities. I have searched but never been able to find them. James wife called me at one point before I was on the plane. His wife stated her husband has the right to sleep with any of the girls in Kebete slum and girls from Subukia, regardless of their ages as this is their tribal way and I cant come in as some colonialism telling them how to act.

She stated He owns them: they all owe him favors in these towns and will all turn against you so never return if you want to live. He owns your IHF in Kenya now so better not return if you value your life. Njaaga himself had said the same thing and on that first horrible day had said I will personally fuck you if I want to, when I want to. No one will do a thing. How do you think I have in office for Planet Safari at the airport when wealthier safaris dont? It is not who you know as much as WHAT you know about who you know that gives me the power

I decided that life is too precious to not stand up to what happened in Kenya and to be too afraid to return and continue to help the greatly malnourished Pokot (I had buried children who didnt survive there) and to try to find the girls who had trusted me in confessing what James had done to them. I decided that I could not let these events go unanswered for. I was recommended a lawyer by the Pokot children and elders and chiefs that I worked with.

As a result of the long period during post Tsunami when I was cleaning up there in Aceh : They ( Muhia and government officials and appointees) were stealing the food relief, education and other monies I sent. Pokot elders claim 11 people who were reliant on that food I provided on a monthly basis died as this was during that horrible period of drought and tribal conflict that too often leaves orphans (in addition to not only HIV but the inherited bride system among widows of tribal conflict and selling of child servants and child brides many by these so called Christians and pastors) .

Various people advised me that if I took these matters to court it would at the very least be the end of IHF and at the worst be dangerous for my children and myself. However I believe that issues like this should be addressed as taking no action contributes to the ongoing problem of corruption and cons that poses such a challenge to the charitable sector  which causes growing difficulties in helping communities who so badly need it.

I disagreed with separating the case into two as I was advised, but the CID office lost the evidence proving it is one case all people involved in both. I started the court case against Muhia in 2004. I was very unhappy to find myself being represented by the same police force that had evicted us from my own orphanage in a terrifying manner involving guns. So the case, despite my pleas to begin in Nairobi, began in Nakuru in 2004 and I was told would take no more than three to six months and then I could work on the true case, the person behind all this : James Njaaga and Presidential appointed head of NGO giving IHF Kenya Chapter to him behind our back, never telling or discussing with IHF board or anyone in IHF and all the violence and abuse that had occurred and was being threatened to continue occurring. It is now 2011. During all this time our evidence, after being written up and documented, has been lost by the police on three separate occasions,( each time we re-gather less powerful but additional evidence) and most recently (in March 2011) by the court house itself when I asked the judge to safe keep the evidence, explaining all the major evidence lost. ( I had received information from my reliable informant that this evidence would also vanish just to let me know they are inside the court system itself and our Nakuru Orphanage will next vanish in the same manner as this evidence).

At least in Nakuru I could keep my eyes on the children so they would not be unfed and their money taken as kept happening when I was not present out in Pokot. I had cashed the last of my retirement bonds to buy a home with land for them in Nakuru with the help of our lawyers and many others in government, and could make certain they were not abused, and we could grow food for them off the land. I obviously did so with many fears and very carefully meeting with all government officials before buying. First this orphanage was located in Pokot itself and then the center moved to land that I purchased on the edge of Githima slum in Nakuru. The center has been there for the last 5 years. It is run by a mixture of local staff and international volunteers. We work according to IHF International bi-laws which mandate that IHF must consist of volunteers only and in essence be people from all over the world helping each other and learning from each other. IHF volunteers are wonderful giving individuals who donate their time and often a large amount of their own money to help our children. We work hard and choose to live as simply as nuns for the same reason nuns help the poor it is our chosen way of life.

This year, after many delays we are approaching the conclusion of the court case against Muhia Muyai. Sadly, I was to learn that due to the the numerous, and at times scary delaying tactics used, the time frame for pressing criminal charges against Najaaga had passed, even though I was assured this was not the case. We will have to file civil charges alone against James Njaaga at this time unless can learn another way. We also had Muhias relative romance volunteers and some others come in and destroy our center , take photos and video , intimidate the children etc when I was in the hospital, another time intimidate a wonderful incredible Director from Tanzania, and once a man bruised me, slamming me against the wall and telling me I will be killed if I return and on and on and on to get to this date in this trial. I am sure all are shocked we have not given up in spite of all other NGOs saying IHF reputation will be destroyed and you will never last in Kenya if you continue. We have continued.

However in May, this year 2011, our amazing unpaid volunteers at our center in Nakuru were arrested by Nakuru immigration for working on tourist visas. They were held in prison, charged, fined 175,000KES and given seven days to leave the country. Leaving the children suddenly abandoned and allowing us no time to arrange for them. They were told that to volunteer they needed a work permit costing $2000. USD. The volunteers who were arrested had at most been present in Kenya for just over two months. One had been there for barely two weeks.

Volunteers have visited our center and projects since IHF began in Kenya and have used tourist visas. I myself have only ever visited Kenya on a tourist visa. We have contacted various Kenyan consulates around the world about this matter whilst their replies about the documentation needed for volunteers is somewhat inconsistent, they regularly state that most volunteers visit Kenya on a tourist visa and do not require further documentation. One consulate even stated that obtaining a work permit was not advisable. Our volunteers have regularly applied for their three months tourist visas by providing a letter of support from IHF stating their purpose and visas have always been granted with no notice of needing further documentation.

 ther NGOs we have contacted in Kenya advise us that their volunteers all visit on tourist visas or in some circumstances they pay money to individual immigration officials as a processing fee.

Conversely, I can only assume that if other NGOs arent subject to this treatment of having their volunteers arrested and deported that IHF is being singled out due to the fact we are bringing court cases against a wealthy Kenyan with many others benefiting and a situation embarrassing at the least to the former head of Kenyan NGOs.

I have been told from reliable sources that the motivation behind this activity is not only intimidation tactics to persuade me not to pursue this case, but also to remove international involvement in our organization to make it easier to close the center and take over the land I own. I am fairly used to dealing with threats. I have been shot at, tortured and witnessed the same too often. My informant saying I will be either arrested upon arrival or have a fatal accident. The government is again claiming that James Njaaga is owner of IHF Kenya Chapter and Muhia is very likely to walk free as innocent because of outside intimidation he is unaware of since we are represented by the same police and I am not allowed to speak to such issues. Just a few days ago I have received message: Dont come without strong helpers from outside! Certain Fatal accident to you before IHF ownership cleared. This informant I mentioned above has been 100 percent accurate in all these years, even about the plot to have a group of volunteers believe we are evil and create fake videos several years ago, while I was seriously ill and unable to travel there. I have no way of overseeing IHF Kenya, following or even appearing for court case , getting money there properly and am worried about the children being so terrified and threatened if I am not there. I am also being told they will close us down if I dont come.

Days after our volunteers were expelled the government authorities in Nakuru accused IHF of having no proper leadership. Worst of all, they insisted that the majority of the children return to Pokot. In their early
years, many of our children were severely malnourished, been used for labor, sold as child brides, had no parents or abusive alcoholic parents. For the last six years they have been slowly healing physically and mentally and it is tragic that they are now once again vulnerable to those dangers.

I consider it imperative that all embassies, consulates, NGOs, media, friends, families and individuals be made aware of these events.

Not just for the sake of unwinding corruption at such a high level but also to give a hope to other organizations and more importantly to our children that there are still people in this world who care for their home and their future.

Yours faithfully
Carol Sasaki
CEO and Founder of IHF
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