A Friend wrote privately about the previous report about US & UK funding agencies withholding donations to schools in Kenya because of rampant corruption. Kenyan Quakers operate many schools, and for the sake of clarity, the articles I quoted did not directly allege that Quaker schools had been stealing US and UK funds.
Rather, the unfortunate patterns of thievery involving some Kenyan Quakers (mainly older “leaders”) have been around since long before this current educational crisis, and some are, I fear, continuing. They involve other institutions, particularly the once-thriving Kaimosi Friends Hospital, which was plundered repeatedly by many who held responsible positions.
Unfortunately, such corruption is a very widespread problem in Kenya. The international monitoring group “Transparency International” publishes an annual ranking of countries in terms of public corruption, and year after year, alas, Kenya ranks very near the bottom.
Also unfortunately, there have been many US-based Quaker officials, mainly associated with Friends United Meeting, involved in the missionary enterprise who played an enabling role in this corruption. They did not steal funds themselves, but turned a blind eye to it, and helped keep information about it from reaching the donors here.
Even now, while current FUM staff insist they are “working on” the problem, reporting on the efforts and the results is very sparse, which leaves some, like me, to suspect that there is less progress than there ought to be.
I hope I might be wrong about this; but extended silence about what may be underway does nothing to dispel my uneasiness. Indeed, it only feeds it.
In my yearly meeting, I have spoken of being unwilling to send our group’s funds to Kenyan Quaker projects without clear explanations of how the integrity of the funds delivery and use can be assured.
There are some theological issues between my yearly meeting and Friends United Meeting, but this concern does not involve them.
“Thou Shalt Not Steal” applies to all versions of Christianity I know anything about. It also applies as much to mission projects as to domestic ones.
And beyond theology, it does not serve justice, or economic “development,” to be silent about thievery, or to be less than thorough in rooting it out.
I urge other concerned Friends to raise their voices for more disclosure as well.