Penny Appeal is a well known Muslim charity that works in over 30 countries around the world. Penny Appeal was operating illegally in Gambia. The Gambian government conducted an investigation, and found cases of sexual abuse and exploitation of orphan children in their care.
On August 12, 2020, the Gambian government closed down the Penny Appeal orphanage in Yarambamba.
After finding this out, British boxer Amir Khan issued a statement criticizing Penny Appeal.
He wrote on social media:
“I’m horrified to hear about the allegations against Penny Appeal. I thought these guys had cleaned up their act? Didn’t they just have an investigation by the Charity Commission?!? This time it’s allegations of child abuse and for their sake, for the sake of the children, and for the sake of the charity sector, I hope to God it isn’t true…I have previously partnered with Penny Appeal many years ago and we did some good work out there. But I severed ties back in 2018. I had my own questions over their internal processes that never got answered. I ended up concluding the operation is deficient. “Now I’m hearing about these horror stories in Gambia at a Penny Appeal orphanage and can see things have really gone downhill since then. When there’s allegations of child abuse and nasty stuff like that, there’s only one solution – shut it down immediately, investigate allegations and if proven to be true, bring the culprits to justice. What’s shocking is that the folk at Penny Appeal pull heart strings to raise millions of pounds from the goodwill of the British people. Sadly it seems, they have little regard to protect those that donate that money or indeed the beneficiaries they seek to serve. Where are their safeguarding policies? How have they failed so badly? Shouldn’t the leadership be held accountable?”
He continued, “ I have seen the media excerpts where my own picture has been used as part of the report. I want to make it clear that whilst I visited the inauguration of a Penny Appeal orphanage, the Amir Khan Foundation had no management involvement whatsoever. In fact, I am so disgusted by what I’ve heard I’ve committed resources through the Foundation to undertake our own independent investigations to ensure the welfare needs of the children are being met. I read somewhere that until someone is prepared to lay out the systemic problem, we’ll simply go through cycles of finding corruption, finding a scapegoat, eliminating the scapegoat, and relaxing until we find the next scandal. It’s a bit like salt covering the flavour of rotten meat. Enough is enough.”
Furthermore, Adam Kelwick, a Peace Ambassador and Humanitarian also posted on Facebook about how Penny Appeal approached him and tried to buy him out with offers like: “Whatever you earn now, we’ll double it,” or “You can choose your own job title, description and salary.”
Each time, Kelwick refused and explained that he had principles, and money isn’t the main reason for why he does his humanitarian work. He never wanted his name associated with such an organisation. It was clear that they wanted to use his face and reputation to distract from many of the terrible things that were going on behind the scenes.
Penny Appeal UK issued the following statement on their website on August 14:
“On 13th August 2020 Penny Appeal became aware of an alleged safeguarding issue in Gambia at a local community based organisation supported by our partner organisation, Penny Appeal Gambia.
As an organisation, protecting children and young people from harm is of the highest possible level of importance. We recognise and accept our responsibility to ensure our partners provide an environment which promotes the safety of our beneficiaries, especially young people, at all times. We are committed to demonstrating the highest standards of behaviour and humanitarian practice and thus have commissioned an immediate independent investigation into all related matters and are engaging the relevant authorities. Issues pertaining to safeguarding are treated with the utmost level of seriousness. Further information will be available on conclusion of the investigatory process.”
This is absolutely disgusting because Penny Appeal is regarding it as a “safeguarding” rather than addressing the sexual abuse allegations. What is even more heartbreaking is that this is a “Muslim” charity. As Muslims who have donated to Penny Appeal and trusted the charity, we are disgusted and very concerned. Penny Appeal has violated the very core principals of Islam and must be held accountable. Hamza Andreas Tzortzis is a British public speaker and researcher on Islam who is also deeply concerned.
He explains on twitter that, given the Gambian government’s conclusions and the seriousness of the issue, they must temporarily stop all charitable activities in the region. There’s evidence of mismanagement and evil. He feels that if this was a white orphanage more would’ve been done by now.
He also wrote “I have a professional and personal (donor) invested interest in the sector & I am a Muslim who is extremely concerned. More transparency is required. The above documents should be publicly available by virtue of your charitable status.”
We must be mindful about the charities we choose to support; although we might have right intentions, sometimes organizations like Penny Appeal do not share the same sentiments. Therefore, we must research thoroughly before donating to a cause. Some organizations are just money hungry, and worry more about the money rather than the people in their care.
Please sign this petition to hold Penny Appeal accountable.
Maliya Naz is a Kashmiri/Pakistani American poet and human rights advocate. When she is not volunteering or translating Urdu ghazals, you can find her giving talks about all things Islam and spirituality.