Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Kiva, Strathmore University, and Opus Dei, The Rest of the Story: Readers Respond

Three days ago, I published a lengthy piece updating readers of Bilgrimage on the controversy that has arisen after the charitable non-profit Kiva chose to partner with an Opus Dei-founded university in Kenya, Strathmore. Here are two of several outstanding responses that readers of that piece have left in the thread of comments following my posting: 

Thank you. This was an amazing piece of research - thorough and well written. 
NOW I understand what's behind Kiva's puzzling silences and those patronisingly inadequate "replies", NOW I understand the rabid vitriol in the replies glaringly evident in certain female members of the LGBT group. [ I had even wondered if she was a 'plant' in the LGBT group]. And I NOW appreciate very clearly that Kiva is undeniably in bed with Opus Dei. 
None of those things will change because the LGBT group or A+ is clamouring. All the while I've been on hold, waiting to see the outcome of the debate to know if I will remain in Kiva or leave - NOW I know the answer: nothing will change. 
I will be informing my friends who I encouraged to join Kiva about this well researched and written blog and they will read it, and we are going to leave. In a capitalist system, this is what the consumer CAN do. 
It is against my conscience to enable Opus Dei through funding to Kiva in any way. And I now regard Kiva as a pathetic organization, that is a world apart from how I once saw it.

Bill...I'm trans* (FTM) and I sincerely thank you for taking the time, and putting the effort, into bringing some transparency to the Strathmore debacle that Kiva has created for itself. I also want to let you know that you are not alone in facing the wrath of various cliques within the lesbian community. Trans* folk in general have often been targeted from within the LGBT community by a group now known as TERFs (Trans-Exclusionary-Radical-Feminists). I think you'll find that these TERF lesbians are probably at the heart of the anger currently directed your way. TERFs have a very narrow view of what they believe to be feminism and anything even remotely male is wrong. But be that as it may, I will no longer be lending through, nor doing business with, Kiva in any form. Once my outstanding loans are "in" I will be withdrawing from Kiva entirely. Opus Dei is currently being considered by the Southern Poverty Hate Watch list as a potential "hate group" with the ability to become a domestic terrorism group focused on political power gain. They haven't made the formal list yet, but they're on the way. At best Kiva is naive and kidding itself about Opus Dei influence with regard to Strathmore University, and at worst it is fully aware and could care less. Either way I'm done with Kiva.

And I now regard Kiva as a pathetic organization, that is a world apart from how I once saw it, and, Either way I'm done with Kiva: these are strong statements. But they're honest articulations of how many people now feel, after Kiva chose to partner with Strathmore via a decision-making process that did not consult Kiva's various constituencies, including its very active GLBT board--a key constituency that would certainly have pronounced feelings about the organization's choice to partner with a university that's in bed with one of the most maleficently anti-gay religious organizations on the planet.

They're strong statements that also reflect the lack of transparency Kiva's leaders have exhibited when members of its GLBT group and its A+ group and other Kiva supporters have asked Kiva to account for its partnership with Strathmore. When a charitable non-profit meets calls for transparency about inexplicable decisions that contradict its core values with diversionary rhetoric or insulting explanations that explain nothing at all, people naturally begin to withdraw support.

This creates a serious situation for a non-profit, since its brand begins to be questioned in the public square. Kiva has worked hard to create a trusted brand, and as Margarita Hinksoni's statement indicates, this is precisely what drew many of us to Kiva in the first place.

That brand is now tainted both by the decision to partner with Strathmore and by Kiva's lack of a compelling response to valid questions about that decision. For the sake of a non-profit that has done much good in the world, I hope that Kiva's leaders choose soon to engage the critical questions raised by more and more former supporters about the Strathmore partnership, before it's too late to restore the organization's credibility. People are walking away. And they'll continue to do so if Kiva continues to stonewall those of us asking for honest answers about the decision to link Kiva to an Opus Dei organization.

P.S. Please see this response from another reader of the Kiva-Strathmore posting, Njonjo Ndehi, a Kenyan who graduated from an Opus Dei high school, and who informs Kivans, "We don't want homosexuals and homosexual sympathisers funding Africans. Why can't they leave us alone?" 

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