I reported last week that K.P. Yohannan met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In the meeting, Yohannan gave 1 crore rupees (just shy of $150,000) to the Ganga Cleanliness Project.
Compared to the millions still banked in India, $15ok isn’t a large sum.
Still, I wonder if donors intended those funds to help save the Ganga River. I also wonder what that money could have done for people.
While I was wondering, I thought of a story I read awhile back on the GFA website. The story of Lakshimi and her sister goes like this:
Nine-year-old Lakshmi works in a factory as a cigarette roller. She tells her sister’s story:
My sister is ten years old. Every morning at seven she goes to the bonded labor man, and every night at nine she comes home. He treats her badly; he hits her if he thinks she is working slowly or if she talks to the other children, he yells at her, he comes looking for her if she is sick and cannot go to work. I feel this is very difficult for her.
I don’t care about school or playing. I don’t care about any of that. All I want is to bring my sister home from the bonded labor man. For 600 rupees I can bring her home—that is our only chance to get her back.
We don’t have 600 rupees…we will never have 600 rupees [the equivalent of U.S.$14].
This story and another one I will tell below break my heart.
If the story of Lakshmi is true, nearly 11,000 kids could be rescued with a Ganga River sized donation. There is something sad and sickening about K.P. Yohannan currying favor with the Prime Minister while GFA offices all over the world beg for more money to help poor children.
The other story comes from an Indian observer of the Bridge of Hope program. A young elementary school aged boy named Sayaan Ali needed treatment for a kidney stone. He was a Bridge of Hope kid. His parents were not able to afford this treatment (about $1000 USD) so they requested help from their Bridge of Hope center and the local Believers’ Church diocese. Tragically, the Diocese failed to act on the request and the boy wasted away until he recently died a painful death. There was no bridge of hope for this young boy. His parents are devastated and the Prime Minister has another $150k for the Ganga River.
Believers’ Church and K.P. Yohannan own several state of the art hospitals which could have provided the care. These hospitals have been touted as means to minister to poor children like Sayaan. If only Sayaan and Lakshmi were important politicians, perhaps the church would have noticed.
Money really isn’t the issue for K.P. Yohannan and Believers’ Church. According to publicly available Indian government documents, GFA and ministry partners have just over $74-million sitting in bank accounts.
Shame on GFA and Believers Church for their photo ops with power. I call on K.P. Yohannan to answer for his use of donor funds and stop hiding behind his nameless board of directors.