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Saturday, May 17, 2014

Corruption, fraud, lying – and even using a suffering child to get food?

Posters found at every border crossing.

I have wanted to write this blog for almost a month now, but have had to calm myself so that it wasn’t just a disorganized rant with finger pointing and tongue-lashing.  Instead, it will be an organized rant with the goal to shed light on corruption in Africa, shame the people who will read this and know that I am speaking about them (while not naming them), and ask for prayer for ALL who serve on this continent and struggle with this, but may not be able to share it openly.

I am not speaking of corruption at the highest levels of government or the misuse of international funds that so often are called in to question and help with the term “bottomless pit” when referring to helping in Africa.   I am referring to people who we trust(ed) and care(d) for who have stolen, embezzled and committed fraud against this Ministry and God.

Here are a few things I have learned in the past 30 days that you might find interesting.

Ghosting – Ghosting is when someone gets paid for working at the end of the month, but that person doesn’t exist.  It requires the Manager to fraudulently sign in to work each and every day and then collect the pay at the end of the month.  While checks and balances must be in place, at some point individual trust of Senior Management must be established.

Fraud Definition is  “the crime of using dishonest methods to take something valuable from another person: a person who pretends to be what he or she is not in order to trick people: a copy of something that is meant to look like the real thing in order to trick people.”  So, If you steal letterhead from a company and if you write a letter on that letterhead and sign it with someone else’s name, who has the authority for that company, THAT IS FRAUD.  You should be in prison.

Skimming – Skimming is a type of fraud. It is when someone’s payroll slip is made out for too much money and the Manager knows that it is wrong, but gives the employee the correct amount and keeps the rest for him/herself.

Corruption –Definition is “In philosophical, theological, or moral discussions, corruption is spiritual or moral impurity or deviation from an ideal. Corruption may include many activities including bribery and embezzlement, Government, or 'political', corruption occurs when an office-holder or other governmental employee acts in an official capacity for personal gain.”    So, if a person in authority in government asks repeatedly for computers or other expensive gifts to benefit themselves or their families it is not a joke, it is wrong, and it is Corruption”.

In the past three years (and even more in the past 30 days) days we have learned about these terms first hand as we have uncovered stealing, lying, ghosting, skimming and embezzlement by people whom we trusted with our lives and this Ministry.  We are not the only people who have had this happen, and it certainly isn’t an African phenomenon. It is a global problem.  But it is heartbreaking and disheartening at the least, infuriating and (almost) defeating at best, especially when it is done by people who profess openly that Jesus is their Lord and Savior. You who know who you are – shame on you.

What I don’t understand is why our African brothers/sisters, who work with us day in and day out, knowing what we are doing to help here, would steal day after day and think its okay?   Do we just look like suckers?   Do they think that we have so much extra money that they are “entitled” to more of it than their pay?

Yesterday I experienced a new type of corruption, committed by an old woman who was using a baby to get food for herself. The child was reported to the Social Welfare department as being in grave danger.  The baby is maybe a year old and is severely malnourished.  He wears the same shirt day in and day out and it is never changed or washed.  He has no pants or socks or shoes.  The days are cold here now and the nights colder.  A court order was issued to have the child removed from the home of a woman who is not even related to the boy. She and a young man who was living with them refused to allow the child to go and instead asked for bread for themselves. One of our team members have given clothes for the child, but the child is never seen in them.  We think she sells them.  This is corruption too. A child is suffering terribly and my Swazi friends say the woman is using the child to beg from neighbors.  The police will go on Monday to see if something else can be done. 

Yes, I am frustrated, and hurt, and maybe even feeling a bit sorry for myself.  We have checks and balances in place at Project Canaan and will continue to increase those as we try to foresee how people will try to steal next.   Where is the check and balance for the other children in the same situation as the boy we are trying to help?  But at the end of the day I have to lay it all at the cross and then look in the mirror.  Sin is sin. I sin, we all sin.  It’s just easier to point out other people’s sin rather than looking at “the plank in my own eye”.

Who does stealing hurt?  Everyone.
So as I end this rant, I must stop and repent for all the things that I do to fall short of the glory of God.  I am far from perfect and I depend of the mercy of MY Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, every day and give thanks for His hand of protection on my life and for the provisions He has given me.  We are committed to working diligently to stretch every dollar that is given to Heart for Africa and to protect it from fraudulent behavior.   We are also committed to advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves.  Please pray that this one-year-old boy will be released in to our care.

Live from Swaziland … I am glad to get that off my chest.



  1. Heart breaking Janine. And I am praying for YOU, this 1 year old and the thieves :( Love what HFA is doing

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