African Cradle responds to child-abuse reports

African Cradle responds to child-abuse reports

 

The Reporter (Addis Ababa), March 28, 2000

 

Addis Ababa - "If allegations are discovered through facts, truth and evidence, we will make the necessary changes in order to continue to protect the well-being of the children in our care," said a letter from African Cradle addressed to The Reporter on Monday. (See full text of letter on page 3)

 

Meanwhile, although Amber Stime Kassa, the executive director of African Cradle, had last week written an official letter to terminate W/o Haregewoin Berhanne from the position of director of the organization, documents obtained from African Cradle confirm that W/o Haregewoin was never appointed as director of the organization.

 

"Your position of director of African Cradle Children's Center, which began in May 1998, has been terminated as of 14 March 2000," said the letter by Amber Stime-Kassa, dated 14 March 2000. However, letters signed by Amber Stime herself show that W/o Haregewoin was not the director of the organization during this period.

 

On 6 January 1995, Meazanesh Wale Getahun, Amber Stime's sister, was apppointed as "Family Connections International's (FCI) Adoption Representative." On 10 June 1996, Dr. Yewondwossen Kassa, Amber Stime's husband, was appointed as FCI's adoption representative. On 13 February 1998, Ato Tewodros Kassa, the brother of Dr. Yewondwossen, was appointed as the adoption representative. And finally, Dr. Mulumebet Shegena was appointed for the same position on 27 December 1999.

 

All the letters of appointment were written and signed by Amber Stime Kassa. While Amber Stime is designated in some of these letters as the executive director of African Cradle, she is also mentioned in the earlier letters as the "Ethiopia Program Director" for FCI.

 

Thus, although it was noted in Amber Stime's letter of March 14 that W/o Haregewoin was the director from May 1998 to March 2000, her own letters signed previously indicate that there were other directors during that period. A letter dated 8 February 2000 and signed by Amber Stime, for instance, states that "our representative Ato Teodros Kassa is no longer employed by African Cradle and our new Adoption Representative is Dr. Mulumebet Shegena." Meanwhile, none of the previous appointments were revoked by Amber Stime.

 

Sources at African Cradle have testified that W/o Haregewoin was in fact "appointed" by Dr. Yewondwossen Kassa. But the appointment was null and void  because Dr. Yewondwossen, himself the director of the organization at that time, had no power to appoint a director.

 

Meanwhile, it was learnt that the report on child molestation, which was prepared by a team of inspectors from the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, is still awaiting the decision of the minister. Sources confirmed that the report has been in the minister's office for three weeks now.

 

Asked what measures had been taken in accordance with the findings of the report, the office of MOLSA's deputy minister had referred The Reporter to speak to the ministry's public relations office. Public relations in turn said the Children Youth and Family Affairs Department (CYFAD) was the most appropriate to comment on the issue. Contacted by The Reporter last week, the CYFAD said it had completed the report and had sent it to their supervisors, apparently the minister.

 

Sources within MOLSA also disclosed that the ministry is at present attempting to discover the sources who leaked to The Reporter the information regarding the child molestation allegations. On 16 March 2000, five staff members of MOLSA were sent to the office of The Reporter, demanding that the newspaper disclose its sources.