Sunday, February 16, 2014

# 2 My second letter to the Global Development Group, dated 12th Feb

Four days after my first 8th Feb letter to the Global Development Group (GDG), an Australian NGO, I remained of the opinion that GDG was unaware that it has provided funding to another Australian NGO – Citipointe church’s ‘SHE Rescue Home’ – that has illegally removed children from their parents and family and passed them off to donors and sponsors as ‘victims of human trafficking’.

Chhork, his second son, Kevin; third daughter, Srey Ka Chanti and baby # 6 - Poppy

Directors of the Global Development Group Board
Unit 6
734 Underwood Road
Rochedale, QLD 4123

12th Feb 2014

Dear    David James Pearson
Geoffrey Winston Armstrong
Ofelia (fe) Luscombe
Alan Benson
David Robertson

Since my letter of 8th Feb. I have had an opportunity to read through the Global Development Group’s 2013 Annual Report. Whilst it answers some of my questions it has also opened up a Pandora’s Box of new questions.

You will appreciate that accuracy is imperative in my presentation of GDG’s role in the funding of the ‘SHE Rescue Home’ in both my documentary and book. If any of the presumptions I have made or conclusions I have reached to date are incorrect I please do correct me.

Peta Thomas writes in the GDG Annual Report

“My specific role is to manage projects in Cambodia with assistance from Nigel Doughan and Makara Kin…we monitor and support projects…”

Chanti teaching Rosa to count in English in 2007


- Has Citipointe informed  Peta Thomas, Nigel Doughan and Makara Kin that for five years Chanti and Chhork have been requesting that the church return their daughters to the family?

- Are Peta, Nigel and Makara aware that the document Pastor Leigh Johnson tricked Chanti into signing with a thumb print on 31st July 2008 has been declared by everyone who has read it to carry no legal weight whatsoever? (If Peta, Nigel and Makara have not seen this ‘contract’ I can provide a copy of it and GDG can have its own lawyers look at it and assess its legal value.)

- If Peta, Nigel and Makara are aware of Chanti and Chhork’s multiple requests that their daughters be returned to the family, why have they not spoken with Chanti and Chhork, visited the family in Prey Veng or spoken with either (or both) the Village and Commune chiefs about this matter? Surely such a course of action would be integral to their assessment and monitoring of the ‘SHE Rescue Home’? Or do  Peta, Nigel and Makara accept, without question, whatever information they are provided by Citipointe?

- Are Peta, Nigel and Makara aware The ‘SHE Rescue Home’ has not provided $1 in financial help to Chanti’s family since July 2008?

- Are Peta, Nigel and Makara aware that last year, when she was 8 months pregnant and suffering from pneumonia, that Citipointe refused to assist Chanti to receive medical care, thus endangering the life of Chanti’s soon-to-be-born daughter?

- Are Peta, Nigel and Makara aware  that, despite many promises made this past five years, Citipointe has never once provided Chanti and Chhork, myself or LICADHO with a re-integration program that would result in Rosa and Chita being re-united with their family? In light of the failure of Citipointe to initiate any form of re-integration progam, the following extract from an email  sent to me by Pastor Ramsay on 31st July 2012, is pertinent:

“Recapping our discussions that we had with you on the Riverfront in Phnom Penh on Saturday 28 July 2012, our stand has not changed in that we are committed to the girls and we desire to safely reintegrate them home under MoSAVY’s direction and instruction.

The reference to ‘MoSAVY’s direction and instruction’ is disingenuous given that Mo SAVY has played no role at all in the lives of Rosa and Chita this past five years and not only refuses to provide Chanti, Chhork, LICADHO or myself with any documents relating to the removal of the girls but does not bother to even acknowledge receipt of letters from the parents of myself.

- Have Peta, Nigel or Makara  read the statement, dated 2nd Jan 2014,  Chanti presented to the court a few weeks ago? I have attached a copy in Khmer and pasted a translation of it below.

- What training have Peta, Nigel and Makara received that equips them to assess an NGO such as the ‘SHE Rescue Home’?

In short, how thorough or effective have been the monitoring and assessment processes undertaken by Peta, Nigel and Makara?

The family home in 2007 - one room in a slum area in Phnom Penh. A poor but happy family.

If Peta, Nigel and Makara are not aware of any of the above-mentioned documents, why are they not? What else are they not aware of? (A thorough reading of my blog is in order if they wish to discover the extent to which they have been kept in the dark by Citipointe.)

I do not wish to be unfair to Peta, Nigel and Makara. If they have been kept in the dark or lied to by Citipointe it would be difficult for them to be aware of what the church actually does in the field, as opposed to what Citipointe claims to do online. If this be the case, however, it points to a serious problem for GDG in its assessment and monitoring procedures.

If, on the other hand, Peta, Nigel and Makara are aware that the parents of two girls in the care of the ‘SHE Rescue Home’ have been asking for the return of their daughters for five years but have never bothered to speak with the girls’ parents about this (Chanti and Chhork) or visit their home and village to make their own enquiries, their competence as assessors and monitors must be called into question.

2007. The yard Chanti's family shares with other poor slum-dwellers

In my experience of dealing with Citipointe this past five and a half years,  GDG’s goal of “effectively coordinating, overseeing and monitoring activity by trained GDG staff” has demonstrably failed in the case of the ‘SHE Rescue Home’. How extensive are such failures within Cambodia? How extensive are such failures worldwide?

It is not just that GDG funds are potentially being wasted by inefficient, ineffective and fraudulent NGOs but that these funds, contributed by generous Australian tax-payers, may also be being used in far flung corners of the globe to abrogate the human rights of families such as Chanti and Chhork’s. Clearly, this is the last thing that GDG wishes to be complicit in but I fail to see, from what I have read on the GDG website, from reading your annual report and from my extensive experience now of Citipointe church’s tendency to play fast and loose with the truth, how GDG can rest assured that it is not being taken for a ride by unscrupulous NGOs. I include Citipointe in my list of unscrupulous NGOs and will not take it off my list (the very top of my list!) until such time as the church provides documents demonstrating the legality of its actions in both removing Rosa and Chita in 2008 and detaining them in 2014.

If GDG has faith in the integrity of the ‘SHE Rescue Home’ Citipointe will, upon being asked, immediately supply GDG with copies of all documents the church has in its possession that reveal its legal right to have (a) removed Rosa and Chita in 2008 and (b) to detain Rosa and Chita in Feb 2014. This could (and I believe should) happen immediately. Today.

If Citipointe can provide GDG, LICADHO, Chanti and Chhork and myself with copies of these documents and if the documents prove to be legally valid, one part of my criticism of the church will have been proved to be invalid. However, even if this were to occur today, the question remains as to why it has taken five years for Citipointe to produce such documents.

2007. Chanti works as a street sweeper at the Russian market whilst Chhork works sporadically as a labourer on building construction sites.

Lets leave aside for the time being the question of the legality of Citipointe’s actions and look at the church’s effectiveness in terms of GDG’s stated aims, as outlined in your Annual Report:

- The ‘SHE Rescue Home’ has failed to alleviate Chanti’s family’s poverty.

- The ‘SHE Rescue Home’ has failed to act in accordance with the basic precepts of social justice and indeed has seriously abrogated the human rights of both Rosa and Chita and their parents, Chanti and Chhork.

- The ‘SHE Rescue Home’ has failed to do anything at all to help Rosa and Chita’s family become self-sufficient and not dependent on outside assistance.

- The ‘SHE Rescue Home’ has failed to initiate any Micro Enterprise and Micro Finance projects to help Rosa and Chita’s family or community.

As for GDG’s aim to rescue trafficked children, the children who have been trafficked in this instance – Rosa and Chita -  have been trafficked by Citipointe (in accordance with Cambodian law), to serve the church’s religious and money raising agendas. And not one cent of the money raised by the church in its presentation of Rosa and Chita as ‘victims of human trafficking’ (itself a demonstrable lie) has gone to provide any form of support for Rosa and Chita’s family this past five years.

2007. Rosa on her way to school. Chita in Vanna's arms.

GDG has comprehensively failed, through the ‘SHE Rescue Home’ in achieving any of the aims relevant to Rosa, Chita and their family as outlined in your Annual Report.

As for GDG’s Values, Citipointe church has exhibited dishonesty, not honesty; has not behaved in an ethical manner; has shown no empathy at all for the emotional distress caused to Chanti and Chhork through the removal of their daughters; has shown no respect at all for Chanti and Chhork’s rights as parents; has not treated Chantis family as it would like to be treated; has provided no services at all to Chanti’s family.

Whether the ‘SHE Rescue Home’ is just one bad apple in a barrel filled otherwise green and unblemished apples, I have no idea. And nor can GDG have any idea if its assessment and monitoring processes are as inefficient as have been manifested in the case of the ‘SHE Rescue Home’.

If need be, I will take Citipointe to court in Australia but, win or lose, GDG’s problem will remain if you do not initiate an efficient and effective assessment and monitoring process. One day it will not simply be a matter of an Australian based NGO in receipt of GDG funds illegally removing two girls from their family (easily dismissed as an aberration) but a major front page scandal involving a lot of money and raising in the minds of your donors the perfectly legitimate question:

“Why did GDG’s assessment and monitoring processes not pick up this scam?”

In my experience, the scams carried out by the charitable sector, by NGOs are so prevalent that it is just a matter of time that the bubble is burst and legitimate NGOs will suffer along with the inefficient, ineffective and fraudulent ones.

2007. En route to school. Chanti is pregnant with Srey Ka

I am, at present, working on the presumption that the Global Development Group is unaware of the various forms of fraud that have been and continue to be practiced by Citipointe church. In order that GDG be able to form its own independent assessment of whether or not what I have written here and in my previous letter and blog is truthful, I suggest the following:

- That I meet with Peta Thomas, Nigel Doughan and Makara Kin and provide them with copies of the documents I have mentioned above and show them footage from my documentary relevant to the allegations I have made against Citipointe.

- That Peta Thomas, Nigel Doughan and Makara Kin meet with Chanti and Chhork and ask whatever questions they feel to be appropriate in relation to this matter.

- That Peta Thomas, Nigel Doughan and Makara Kin visit Chanti and Chhork’s village in Prey Veng (90minutes from Phnom Penh) to see their home, meet their children, speak with the Village and Commune chiefs and others in the community in order to arrive at their own independent assessment of the family’s situation. (It would be inappropriate for me to accompany them on this visit the Chanti and Chhork’s village.)

2007. Rosa at school

I will be in Cambodia for the next week and will make myself available at short notice to assist GDG in its endeavours to properly monitor and assess Citipointe’s involvement in the lives of this family.

I can be contacted on the following two phone numbers in Cambodia: 015611478 and 017 898 361.

In the interests of both transparency and speeding up this process I am copying this to ACFID as it clearly has a vested interest in whether or not the ‘SHE Rescue Home’ is abiding by its Code of Conduct or not.

best wishes

James Ricketson

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