STAESA takes all of its incidents very seriously. In our 16 years of operation, we have had only one bad incident. Many of our volunteers came upon this blog which states that STAESA is a corrupt and fraudulent organization. We hope everyone will take the time to read the blog post, as well as STAESA's response to the incident. If you have any questions and would like to further investigate this, please contact us.
Apparently two girls from Canada in 2005 had a “life-threatening”, horrible experience with our organization in Tanzania. All the information about the girls’ incident can be found above. Today, all the volunteers, directors, and coordinators of STAESA have come together to repudiate the severity of the accused claims and hand you the truth.
The intro paragraphs of the girls’ account state exactly what should have happened. The two girls from Canada were assigned to a HIV/AIDS clinic in Tanzania that previous volunteers had volunteered at with no problems. The two girls were to stay with the former Amnesty International Director, but ended up staying with the STAESA Tanzania Program Coordinator. Although the original plans were settled for the girls to stay with the Director, problems arose the day before the girls arrived when the STAESA Office received a call from the Former Amnesty International Director; the director stated that she was having personal family issues. The Director stated she would be unable to host the girls: this was an issue STAESA could not control as every person has the right to deny such accommodation; the household seemed too unstable for the girls to settle in. Therefore, due to unforeseen circumstances and out of the interest of safety, STAESA made the decision to host the girls with the Tanzania Program Coordinator.
The next complaint was based on the poor quality of living conditions, which consisted of a single bed, religious artifacts, and objects of the family. STAESA would like to remind that volunteers are living in AFRICA, and part of the volunteer experience is for the volunteer to immerse himself/herself into the African culture. Part of the African culture is poorer conditions than one is accustomed to, as well as an exposure to religion. Tolerance and acceptance of another culture’s views is a tenet that is essential for volunteers to grasp and for one’s experience altogether. STAESA believes that a STAESA volunteer must live in the same conditions as the people they are helping to truly understand and bond with the people that they will correspond with during their stay in Africa.
STAESA would also like to reiterate that it is not a religious organization, nor does it affiliate with religious organizations. It is typical in Africa that the majority of the people are Christian, so often reverends and priests will also be leaders, headmasters, and district leaders of their community. It is almost inevitable that a volunteer will work with leaders holding a religion; however, STAESA does not directly correspond with religious organizations and religious factions. Rather, religion is part of African culture, so sometimes the people volunteers work with will hold a religion. Just as if one goes to an Arab state, he can expect the majority to be from a Muslim background.
The fourth paragraph says STAESA is an organization that charges the volunteer a fee to volunteer. Yes, STAESA charges a reasonable fee to volunteer so that volunteers would funnel money back into the host families, community, and pay for small administrative costs. If you do not believe STAESA’s volunteer fee is reasonable, please look at the Price Comparison page on our website. STAESA’s contract with volunteers is that volunteers pay their fees upon their arrival, regardless of their satisfaction (although numerous volunteers have had positive experiences in Tanzania working with the same coordinator at the same HIV/AIDS clinic).
STAESA cannot believe that the girls got the right exchange rate when they stated they were badgered for an equivalent of $60 for breakfast (STAESA chooses/interviews the correct host families under strict regulations before selecting them to host). The host family has every right to ask for their money, because they cannot be expected to accommodate volunteers (added expense to their already limited income) before actually receiving some form of monetary reimbursement.
STAESA cannot understand how the girls claimed that they had no volunteer placement emplaced for them, because that is a very ludicrous statement. STAESA sets up each individual with proper volunteer placement according to the preference of the individual. First of all, when the girls refer to STAESA, we assert that they are referring to the Tanzania coordinator. The STAESA office never contacted the girls with threatening emails to send money and never threatened them with God’s name. The STAESA office only desired to investigate the issue and inquire what happened; however, STAESA was unaware of the surrounding issues because the girls never replied to our subsequent emails.
At the moment, STAESA’s office was unaware that the girls contacted the Canadian embassy and that they had left to Kenya. STAESA was forced into a problem where they could not solve anything: due to the lack of cooperation from the girls in failing to reply to STAESA, the problem only escalated. STAESA never received any information from the Canadian embassy, and such claim that the Tanzania government would intervene and put the girls into jail is another ludicrous statement. The fact that the Canadian embassy ordered the girls to leave Tanzania proves that the contract legally was indeed broken and thus, under legalities, the government reserved the right to imprison the girls at the highest level of punishment. However, in reality, this scenario is very unlikely; the Canadian embassy would have directed the girls to the Foreign Affairs Ministry of Tanzania even IF the girls’ claim of contacting the Canadian embassy lies true.
Although the girls were, acceded by legally binding contract, supposed to stay with STAESA and pay their reasonable fee no later than when they had arrived, such desired result was not the case. Regardless of whether the girls personally desired to pay based on satisfaction (which is contradictory to the legal contract and to many typical legal contracts), the girls acquiesced to STAESA’s terms and conditions once such agreement was formulated before their arrival. Since the girls absconded to a different country, the girls abruptly abrogated their contract without any legal authority or permission to do so. Reluctantly, STAESA absolved these girls without pursuing further litigation in the best interest of both parties. The girls on their blog just explicitly admitted that they broke the legal contract between STAESA and them; therefore, they reserve no right to accuse STAESA of not providing the expected services and accommodations.
Also, the logic of leaving from Tanzania to Nairobi for safety is skewed logic in itself, because like she mentioned, Nairobi is a dangerous city in a very unstable country. Arusha, the city they were emplaced in, is only about 200 km away from Nairobi. How could it take six hours for a bus to drive that distance? (STAESA has verified this distance through Google Maps). There is much doubt raised upon the report being highly aggrandized and accentuated, and that the situation could have played out much more differently if the girls had acted in the correct tolerant, amenable, and transparent matter.
Then the girls finally stated their adage, “sometimes the best things in life are free”, but the truth of the matter is that they failed to account the monetary costs involved when they stayed with their hostel, and paid for their own food. If this were the case for STAESA, in which the girls would pay for their own accommodations and food, then STAESA would also basically be free: we only charge mainly for the host family, their accommodations, and food (for more information, please look at our Financial Records Page).
In the end, despite the other volunteers’ refusals for the STAESA Office to do so, STAESA woefully fired the Tanzania coordinator, despite his denial of the girls’ claims and successful experiences with other volunteers. STAESA sent apology emails to the girls for such problems even though it was out of our hand at this point. The girls’ specific idiosyncrasies had led them to their situation: in STAESA’s 16 years of operation, this was the only one negative incident STAESA has had to suffer, unfortunately even to this day.
For more confirmation upon STAESA’s legitimacy and success, please look to the Testimonies Page on our website. Many volunteers who have worked with us are shocked and angry at the girls’ immaturity in dealing with the situation: written testimonies with volunteer contact information are available if one desires to confirm such information.
Although what has happened has passed, STAESA would still like to apologize for any confusion, stress, and antipathy that this incident has instigated. STAESA is a professional African registered NGO which has much success working with many volunteers around the world in several African countries. We are not comfortable with nor tolerate negative, fraudulent claims attacking our organization, especially when this incident is one of six years ago.
On behalf of STAESA’s directors, volunteers, and staff, STAESA strongly hopes you understand the truth and believe our true mission: please do not worry about this aspersion and come work with us if you do truly desire to ameliorate such deplorable living conditions and to have an amazing African volunteer experience.
If you still have more questions or additional concerns to report to STAESA, please contact us, and we will get back to you quickly.