Liberia: US Embassy Refutes Giving More Than Me Grant
Monrovia – Contrary to reports from More than Me (MTM) that they received half a million dollars from the US government to finance girls education in Liberia, the US embassy has told FrontPageAfrica that said information is untrue.
Report by Bettie K. Johnson-Mbayo, [email protected]
In a response to an FPA inquiry, the US embassy said they have found no evidence of financial support from the U.S. Department of State to MTM.
The US embassy said a reference to a US$500,000 grant from the State Department in their 2014 IRS filing was an error made by the organization.
“In FY 2015, “More Than Me” applied for, and was denied, a grant from the U.S. Department of State. The organization cites this grant application as the source of the error on their 2014 IRS filing,” the embassy said.
The US Government, through its relief agency, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) disclosed that was reviewing documentation that enabled MTM to receive a grant from Mercy Corps in 2014.
It can be recalled that MTM was one of the grant recipients during the Ebola crises, just around the same time its co-founder McIntosh Johnson was arrested and sent to prison ahead of trial.
In response to an inquiry done by this newspaper, USAID said in response to the 2014 to 2016 West Africa Ebola outbreak, Mercy Corps was provided funding for social mobilization activities from September 2014 to July 2015.
Mercy Corps subsequently gave 26 sub-grants to local organizations, including one to MTM to help maximize their reach in Ebola-affected communities.
“USAID is currently reviewing documentation related to the award to Mercy Corps and has additionally notified the USAID Office of Inspector General regarding the allegations,” said Selim Ariturk, Public Affairs Officer, US Embassy, Liberia.
According to him, USAID requires that its partners’ assistance programs respect—and protect—the rights of all people at all times, especially those affected by crises.
“Every grant from USAID is subject to a strict Code of Conduct requirement, mandating that partners ensure the protection of beneficiaries from sexual exploitation and abuse in humanitarian relief operations.”
FPA has discovered that the State Department has been unable to find evidence of a separate grant MTM put on a 2014 tax return and 2014 calendar tax return ends June 30, 2015.
“We have found no evidence of financial support from the U.S. Department of State. However, we continue to search for any records related to a US$500,000 grant that More Than Me declared in a 2014 IRS filing,” the US government said.
The American Government confirmed that it is aware of the investigation of MTM, which is an American charity organization.
“We find the allegations of sexual abuse deeply troubling. The United States believes that girls and boys around the world should be able to receive an education in safe environments,” the embassy added.
In Dec 2014, MTM founder Katie Meyler was named Times Magazine’s ‘Person of the Year.’
It almost three weeks since the Liberian Advisory Board for MTM announced that Meyler as its CEO was stepping down from the day-to-day operations of the NGO, until the conclusion of the investigation.
According to the board, they uncovered several statements that were either inconsistent with the information provided to them by the MTM leadership or that there was new information.
MTM, an American charity, was founded in 2009 by Meyler to help get girls from the streets to school with its focus on West Point, one of the very impoverished slum communities in Liberia.
The local board, in a statement on October 14, said in reviewing the allegations, the panel will have no one who is associated with the incidences or MTM involved.
Confirmed members of the panel are National Civil Society Organization, Women NGO Secretariat of Liberia (WONGOSOL), Independent Human Rights Commission, REACH, Servant of All Prayer (SOAP) and Disaster Victims Association of Liberia.
MTM LAB disclosed that in an initial meeting with officials of the Ministries of Justice, Gender, Children and Social Protection and Education on October 12, 2018, it will fully cooperate with the government in any investigation.
“It is very important to note that MTM’s primary concern and the objective is giving our students the opportunity for quality education and a bright future as well as a safer environment for girls.
“Some of the girls reached out to the Liberian Advisory Board on October 12, 2018, appealing for the non-closure of the MTM Academy and its ancillary programs. They are concerned because they believe that the closure of the program is the end of their hope for a better future,” statement added.