Our organization International Humanity Foundation, in the face of progress in a court case against corruption in Kenya, is now being intimidated. This is being achieved by threatening the lives of orphans and selling them into human trafficking. The urgency is that children are currently being trucked right now. Our organization has a history in this area. This specific incident urgently needs addressing now. We are asking you to help us by sending this to your mailing list and also Embassies, civic groups, religious groups etc as the only way we can help our Children in time is by the public demanding the Kenyan embassies and others investigate it immediately.
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 didn’t feel quite right and then Nakuru police coming and saying they don’t have enough to safeguard us (after I had refused Njaaga’s 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 didn’t 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 James’s 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 wouldn’t 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 Njaaga’s 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 can’t 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 an office for Planet Safari at the airport when wealthier safaris don’t? 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 didn’t 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. Other 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 aren’t 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: “Don’t 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 don’t 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.
CEO and Founder of IHF