No doubt you have read the many articles over the past month about corruption within various diocese of the ELCT, most specifically the North Central Diocese under the control of Bishop Laizer and General Secretary Karyongi. Here (HabariLeo.com) is a link to onf of the many articles.
While there is lots of talk about the Corridor Springs Hotel and the Hospital, what you probably have not heard is our story. We are an NGO that had until late 2011, been operating a secondary school for orphans in Arusha before it was siezed by the North Central Diocese of the ELCT. We are still fighting to get it back. Below is our story.
Attached (embedded in this site at the end) is the script of our documentary on the subject of corruption within the church in Tanzania. We hope it will provide some advice for how NGOs need to proceed carefully when it comes to setting up new projects in Tanzania. We also hope it will further our efforts to reclaim control of our project so we can continue the work of educating Tanzanian orphans.
Please contact me (*Scott) with any questions on this.
*To contact Dr Scott, please see the address at the end of this article)
On November 26, 2011, the North Central Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania (NCD-ELCT) took over the operation of Peace House Secondary School (PHS) in Arusha, Tanzania. Prior to the take-over, PHS was funded, built, owned and operated by Peace House Africa (PHA), a Minnesota-based non-profit. What you may not be aware of is that the NCD under the direction of Bishop Thomas Laiser and General Secretary Israel Karyongi, literally stole the school from PHA at gunpoint. The following day, the American Managing Director and staff were evicted from the country by the Immigration Authorities, who had been influenced by the Bishop.
Bishop Laiser has issued many false public statements attempting to justify the stealing of the school. However, in the
end it was simple armed robbery of a $6 million PHA investment in Africa, meant for the benefit of orphan kids. The school has now been converted to a private, for-profit school charging tuition that is totally unaffordable to destitute students.
Since the take-over of PHS, the NCD has refused all efforts by PHA to negotiate a resolution to this matter. We have taken this matter to high-level government and church officials in both the USA and Tanzania seeking their assistance. Unfortunately, we have found that no one wants to be involved with the “dirty work” of stopping corruption within the African church—even if it was a school for orphans that was stolen.
We are reminded of Dr. Martin Luther King’s paraphrase of Dante’s immortal words, “The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict.”
No matter–we will deal with the corrupt Bishop and his accomplice, the General Secretary, on our own. We have decided that the best way to attack this corruption is to follow the Ronald Reagan game plan for deposing third world dictators—cut off their money supply! We will continue to put financial pressure on the NCD until they return the school and the land that it sits on, to PHA. Further, we are pushing for the resignation or firing of Bishop Laiser and General Secretary Karyongi from the NCD.
You may ask, how do you put financial pressure on a church on the other side of the world? Very easy….
First, friends of Peace House organized a boycott of the Corridor Springs Hotel—a for-profit hotel built for the benefit of the Bishop and owned by the NCD (www.boycottcorridorsprings.blogspot.com). The Hotel now has virtually no guests and is losing more and more money every month. The NCD had been secretly using charitable donations to both service the $4 million debt on the hotel and make up for the operating losses. So we started telling this story of corruption to their major foreign donors. No surprise, the result was a sudden drop-off of donations. The NCD was unable to make their annual $400,000 interest payment and the bank is currently foreclosing on the hotel.
Next, we are producing a documentary titled, “The New Face of Corruption in Africa,” which tells our story and other cases of massive corruption within the Tanzanian churches. We will share the finished video with churches and potential donors throughout America and Europe. It is not our objective to cut off all charitable donations to Africa but rather to prevent a large percentage of these donations from being embezzled by corrupt church officials. Money sent to corrupt church leaders is simply a waste of the finite charitable dollars available in this world.
Finally, we are distributing the script for the documentary to any interested parties in Tanzania, prior to the release of the final production (see attached script). The script is our first effort to widely disseminate our side of the story…up until now it has been the church telling lies to rationalize their crime. Our objective with telling our story in the local community is to help and encourage honest church officials, pastors and NCD members to “clean their own house” of their corrupt leadership, before they lose their foreign funding.
We hope that you will help PHA get PHS back so that we can once again open the school to orphans and other very needy students. Please help us by forwarding this email and the attached script to any Tanzanian or expatriate contacts that you think may be interested in this story–particularly members of the NCD or government.
We also hope that you find the story to be useful as well as interesting. For those of you who work with NGOs or the church, we hope that you can learn from our experiences and avoid some of these problems.
Thanks for your help and support in our effort to get PHS back for the orphan kids.
All the best,
Dr. Scott Augustine
Founder and Chairman,
Peace House Africa