About three years ago, a church group from Canada visited a rural village in Kenya. They spent two days in the village, attending Church, eating local food and praying with the locals. They were taken aback by the poverty in the region but really touched by the locals’ generosity in providing food and shelter.
On returning to Canada, they talked to other Church members and decided to raise money and sink a well in that rural village. The area was very dry and it rarely rained.
The locals depended on murky water from the ponds, which would sometimes dry up completely leaving them to buy water from a few locals who either had large tanks or wells on their property. A well would be a perfect gift for the Church and locals.
The Church group raised the target amount needed to sink the well within a few months. It is then that they realized that they faced a challenge. Much as they had funds to sink a well, they did not have the expertise needed to make it possible.
They therefore approached an international NGO, which at the time was running some programs in the village. They agreed to fund the organization to build the well at the village Church. They handed over the funds and started tracking the progress on the well.
In 2015, the Church group visited the village, they had received reports that the project was underway and almost complete. There was talk that they could even have an opening ceremony. Imagine to their horror when they found…nothing.
They confronted the International NGO officials, who took them to a different location and showed them two small latrines and a water tank that had been built for a school about 3km away from the Church.
The NGO officials claimed that from their discussions with the Church group, they had agreed to build latrines and a water tank. The Canadian visitors were incensed. Some broke down in tears, hardly believing their eyes.
They called out the NGO representatives and retrieved documents showing that they had requested for a tank. The NGO now altered the story to say that water could not be found at the location suggested (the Church) and therefore they opted to build latrines and a water tank, without consultation.
The NGO official who offered the explanation seemed to miss the fact that the latrines and tank were not at the same location. The visitors were at a loss and decided to let the Canadian Church pursue the matter further.
The Canadian church demanded for their money to be returned. Their demands fell on deaf ears. Appeals to the Kenyan Director of the said NGO were ignored for the most part.
The explanation from the organization (at least in Kenya) was that the money had been used and as such could not be repaid! It was not until the Canadian church filed a legal complaint with the NGOs Canadian and American offices that a few people were spurred into action. The employees involved with the scandal at the village office were immediately dismissed or reposted.
The international headquarters of the NGO ordered the Kenyan office to sink a well at the location it was supposed to be or repay the amounts remitted to them from Canada in full. As of May 2016 when I visited the village there seemed to be no work going on at the Church, however there is hope that a well will be built soon.
I wrote this story to highlight how much corruption has invaded our society. In the case of the NGO working at this village, the officials knew the right thing to do but focused on enriching themselves rather than helping a community.
The society is under the impression that those who do right are dying in poverty while the corrupt make enough money to pay their way to heaven. I have omitted details regarding this story as it involves well-known organizations and it is a private matter being settled out of court.
I shared it because I was so disappointed with the international NGO but at the same time my eyes were suddenly opened to see how bad corruption really is in Kenya. It is the cancer that will cripple our nation.