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Africa charity worries of Hyndburn MP Graham Jones
AN MP has written to the Charities Commission with his concerns about how a Haslingden charity is delivering aid to Africa.
Graham Jones’ letter came after he said he went on a mission to Uganda where he claimed Agapao International had left ‘a trail of broken promises, under-funding and people they simply abandoned overnight’.
The Hyndburn and Haslingden MP said in the letter that orphans originally housed by the charity had told him they were left to fend for themselves in a ‘roadside shack’ after funding dried up.
On its website Agapao said it ‘strives to inspire and empower individuals and communities globally encouraging skills through training and support to develop sustainability.’ Despite several attempts, the Lancashire Telegraph has been unable to investigate the MP’s allegations about Agapao because, despite repeated efforts, it has not been possible to speak to anyone representing the charity. The Agapao Impact Centre, in Bury Road was locked up yesterday.
Mr Jones said he was ‘heartbroken’ after meeting orphaned children.
He said in the letter: “The redundant workers had leased a dirty, cramped mud-bricked hut where 13 of the children were now housed in poor conditions, without mosquito nets and lacking in nutrition and food. Their clothes were old and ragged and not very clean.”
Mr Jones visited a school, where the children did not receive food or school reports and were forced to sit at the back of the class because, it was claimed, Agapao stopped paying their school fees in 2011.
Mr Jones added: “I spoke with the teachers and the staff who told me they wanted to help the kids and kept them in school. How can a UK charity work with no other charities to resolve any issues or provide support and simply abandon the most vulnerable people, children in a very poor country like Uganda?”
Agapao, which the charity said means ‘I love you, unconditionally’, is currently under investigation by the Charities Commission, which expressed concerns about its management and governance as well as its involvement with community station Rossendale Radio, which is no longer operating.
Other than the MP’s letter, the Lancashire Telegraph has not seen any of the evidence on which he bases his claims.
A spokesperson for the Charities Commission said: “We have written to the trustees setting out a range of steps we expect them to take by October of this year. We have asked the trustees to report back to us by November.
“Our concerns revolve around general governance problems at the charity, including but not limited to the question of how the charity’s mission is furthered by the acquisition of the radio station.
“One of the issues we have asked the charity to provide clear information about is the extent of charity funds that were applied to purchase the radio station.
“We have also asked the trustees to clarify and review the charity’s relationship with its partner organisation in Uganda.”