Greetings to you from Child Aid Africa. We are truly thankful to God for a great experience during 2016. Following the discouragements at the close of year 2015, concerted efforts in prayer and a humbling response from our partners kept us fully engaged in support of every student in our program. One of the long standing “Founding” Partner of Child Aid Africa responded generously to our plea for help; touched our hearts deeply with the financial help we desperately needed. His family became the hand-of-God to save our ministry from a debilitating blow. This is how it unfolded: While making travel plans for a meeting at his city, he opted instead to make a 18-hour round trip to my town to pray with us and to offer encouragement to our ministry. This is his enduring remark during the visit, “I do not wish to see any of the students suffer.” This he concretized by offering us adequate funding to cover the budget shortfall -- a clear demonstration about the faithfulness of God to the mission of Child Aid Africa. Consequently, we were able to meet our students’ fees commitments for our graduating and continuing students. We granted full year scholarships to 15 students but this year we have 7 cases needing scholarships under our current scholarship format; we are very encouraged that our partners are keen to support efforts to allow these students complete secondary school education.
Wonderful News! Two of our partner families supporting our secondary school education scholarship program - the Johnsons and and Pruitts, have determined to continue support to their sponsored students through college education. This is a surprise development just when we are lamenting that most of our students loose their dreams for college education due to the cost of higher education in East Africa. We are most grateful for this pre-emptive gesture from these two wonderful families.
New Program Direction: Although we had a low-key year, 2016 was a tremendously important year at Child Aid Africa. We carried out an evaluation of our accomplishments, challenges and lessons learned during our 11 years of ministry providing orphans’ with education opportunities. Our findings demonstrated clearly that large numbers of primary and secondary school graduates are still in great need of support. Further, the need has become more urgent with new shifts in political, cultural, and social economic landscape in the region. While secondary school support continues to be urgently needed, students that graduate from secondary schools have had little or no chance of entering college. Our initial ideation that college scholarships would be readily available to the majority has been contradicted by the on the ground reality. Although many agencies have popped up lately with a populist agenda to support the minority cream and exceptional achievers, average students – the bulk - the hump in the normal distribution curve, scoring C grade and below, have absolutely no support to earn college education. The faulted drive to support only the brightest has unwittingly neglected a huge section of student population mostly orphaned, poor and disfranchised cases.
Students with grade C and below comprise the highest percentage of all the KSCE graduates that do not attract support from any of the available education support agencies.
To address this urgent need, Child Aid Africa has developed a strategy to address this need in a new education support program - the Pay It Forward (PIF) under an Impact driven conception. Among the key facets of the PIF scholarship format, Child Aid Africa is poised to become a fully sustainable agency. Qualifying students will carry more responsibility by signing a PIF loan repayment contract. Different products will be available under the program i.e. secondary school education, vocational training, college education and job-placement training. The hall-mark of the program is the birth of the Center for Adolescent Health Social Enterprise (CAHSE) Initiative. Funds generated through the servicing and sale of medical devices (equipment) will support CAA operations and eventually, the PIF fund. In this regard, we are recruiting and engaging in conversations with individuals, churches and corporations to join hands with us. We are seeking inclusion in the Cooperate Social Responsibility (CSR) grant provisions in local and international businesses. We are also keen to join partnerships with impact investors for the support of our Social Enterprise Business start-up needs.
Our five-year projection is to assist 1000 students through secondary and college education; and 500 in vocational-training and related mid-level training. Our Life Skills and Mentorship program will cover all students in batches of 200 through counseling and training. The most urgent need is for a start-up fund estimated at 10% of the projected first annual budget at $230,000.
We are inviting all our existing partners, and newcomers to join with us to jump-start the new program initiative. We are inviting our recently retired (all whose sponsored children graduated from high school during 2015 - 2016), and existing partners to join with us in our mission.
I know you have anticipated my newsletter for a while. I wish to explain in a disclosure, circumstances that have led to the delay in my writing – please pray with us as you read.
Around Nov. 2015 a donor by the name of Bishop Connor of Tender Life Ministries (http://www.tenderlifeministries.com) approached us, “after learning about [our] wonderful ministry with orphans and poor children” and “having been in Kenya and witnessed the needs of children in the country,” wished to join with us in a partnership. The immediate role required of us was to assist Pastor Leonard Cheruiot Mutai with a portion of the donated funds for an orphans’ feeding program in Kajiado. After the usual exchange of documents and our CAA covenant of collaboration. Bishop Connor and his friends commenced donations through Child Aid Africa website. To our amazement, his donations kept flowing in batches of 4 every two weeks through our website, until December aggregating to a$7,500 cap. Around the same time, I travelled to Kenya beginning Nov. 19, 2015 and to stay until March 2016.
The shocking news: Early in January this year, I received news from Frontstream that the donations had been fraudulent and that chargebacks equal to the credited funds plus penalties would be commenced immediately. Without any other information, Frontstream began to draw every available and incoming dollar from our Child Aid Africa account. This revelation served a debilitating blow on us to say the least. The problem was further compounded by the urgent need to re-populate our account to cater for the large chargebacks. Understandably, we could not dare approach our donors at this early stage or seek assistance. Child Aid Africa had been placed in an unprecedented dilemma, never envisaged in our 10 years of existence (NB: 2015 was to be our 10th year anniversary celebration).
It is due to this matter in part, that my communication with our donors has been delayed. Since my arrival from Kenya, I have met with the Dauphin county police department and also held meetings with PNC bank management here in Hershey about the matter. We are happy that the bank management has taken our case seriously to assist in recovering the funds from Denarionline and Frontstream. We have also opened a new Child Aid Africa account[i] with the bank. The matter is being investigated by the local Dauphin County police department and the Interpol department in Nairobi (this is due to an indication of collusion in the fraud with a local pastor in Narok).
Following this unfortunate incident, Child Aid Africa has determined to implement the following urgent measures:
- All future online donations will be channeled through e-giving NCS and the PNC bank provided merchant services at our website; our donors should therefore cancel all current Denarionline sponsorships and setup a new e-giving account for one time or regular donations.
- As you may have noticed, Denarionline and Frontstream ceased to process Child Aid Africa donations from the end of February 2016). Therefore, we are requesting our donors to repost via e-giving, bank or personal checks any accrued arrears that may have failed to reach our bank account.
I welcome any questions you may have at this time. However, I shall endeavor to address some of the more critical issues here-under:
How has Child Aid Africa coped?
Immediately after learning that we had fallen victim to fraud, and knowing that we already had dwindling funds, we immediately wrote to the school principals to inform about the inevitable interruption of our scholarship program. We further advised the principals to team up with us in seeking immediate support from the emergent large education support agencies such as, “Wings to Fly” of the equity bank and the Family bank. We also approached other local agencies - for assistance with 17 of our most desperate cases but received no assistance.
What is the immediate strategy?
For the last two years, we have been discussing a possible collaboration between Child Aid Africa, Etown College Social Enterprise Institute, and Daystar University (Daystar University was birthed by Messiah College also offered MC diplomas for a long time) to set up a Child Aid Africa Social Enterprise Fund to support education for the poor youth in Kenya. The Pay It Forward Fund (PIF) fund will be administered by Child Aid Africa in conjunction with Daystar University and the Etown College Social Enterprise Institute. We are excited to announce that we have just finished a weekend long meeting between the representatives of the three agencies hosted by the Etown SEI director Dr. Jim Reeb. We are tremendously excited about the potential impact in our program and the future of this partnership.
What is the CAA’s most urgent need?
Recent events have inevitably left Child Aid Africa destabilized and at the verge of a closedown. i) We are in urgent need of funds to cover school fees for the 17 students affected by the incident – estimated amount $24,000. ii) Regarding the new collaborative Pay It Forward Program, we need a start-up support (estimated @ $16,000) to cover the initial six months. The support will assist to establish the program at Etown College and at the Daystar University.
Our Vision: Through the PIF project, our regular sponsorship program will evolve strong to support thousands of orphaned and disenfranchised children that so desperately need education support. We are determined to fully employ the Impact Investment Conception in our new direction as a measure to establish Child Aid Africa as an economically viable agency in the immediate future.
Please give your donation to assist CAA to recover. Click Here
[i] Available on request, are bank letters of demand to Frontstream as a demonstration of the banks effort to assist us recover the lost funds.