Earlier this week, the Lepanto Institute and Population Research Institute (PRI) revealed that the PEPFAR-funded project operated by Catholic Relief Services in Kenya called “SAIDIA” implemented an MTV-produced video series that promotes promiscuity and condoms called Shuga. Responding to this report, CRS provided a statement to Life Site News with the headline, “Catholic Relief Services Responds to False Allegations of Shuga Video in Kenya.” However, CRS’s response actually confirms that Shuga was indeed implemented through CRS-SAIDIA, contradicting the headline claim that the “allegations” were “false.”
But more interesting is that the narrative provided by CRS appears to be contradicted by CRS’s reporting documents to PEPFAR. For instance, CRS said in its response that Shuga was discontinued in quarter 3 of year 3 because the materials were inappropriate:
“The SAIDIA FY2011 annual report to CDC correctly notes that the video was used as part of the abstinence and be faithful (AB) activities in FY2011, but stopped at the end of quarter three when CRS learned the materials were being used and were not appropriate for use within our programming.”
However, According to the SAIDIA FY 2011 annual report, which is page 140 of the FOIA documents, CRS said that “During the last quarter, there was a transition of the HVAB strategy to evidence-based behavioral interventions (EBI).”
Shuga wasn’t the only HVAB strategy discontinued at that time … there are at least seven other programs being implemented at the same time that were also discontinued. This statement seems to indicate that the discontinuing of Shuga was related to the purging of all non-EBI programs, and not because Shuga was morally objectionable.
Another statement made by CRS in its response is highly contradicted by CRS’s own reporting documents. CRS said:
“Around the time CRS began overseeing the SAIDIA project, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) rolled out Shuga as an evidence-based intervention (EBI) nationally. CDC directly introduced local implementing partners to the Shuga video at a training. CRS partners did not like Shuga and found it inappropriate for the populations with whom they worked, particularly since many of the partners were Catholic. Subsequently, only one secular CRS partner, Movement of Men Against AIDS in Kenya (MMAK), used Shuga as part of their abstinence and fidelity programming and only used it for a very short period of time.”
If CRS partners did not like Shuga because it was inappropriate, and if only one secular partner implemented Shuga as CRS indicated above, then how does CRS explain that it’s SAIDIA FY2010 annual report for year 2 (page 29 of the FOIA documents) states rather plainly that “11 partner organizations were trained for two days on Shuga methodology and all these eleven partners are now implementing the strategy“? The thing is, either CRS’s report to PEPFAR is false, or CRS’s response above is false. They both can’t be true.
But the most curious aspect of CRS’s response regarding the implementation of Shuga is this:
“When CRS learned MMAK was using these materials that were not in line with Catholic teaching within its abstinence and fidelity programming, CRS specifically instructed all partners not to use Shuga and informed CDC that SAIDIA would not use this video within our abstinence and fidelity work.
This is a good example of how CRS continuously reviews and adjusts, working with local partners and donors, to ensure our programs are in line with Catholic teaching.”
The SAIDIA FY 2011 annual report was filed in September of 2011. However, just seven months later, in April of 2012, CRS submitted to PEPFAR its continuation grant application for year five of the SAIDIA project. On page 342 of the FOIA documents is a very clear statement from CRS about how it is considering both Shuga I and II for year five of the SAIDIA project. CRS said in its grant application to PEPFAR, “SAIDIA is considering Shuga I and II to help address the gap particularly in ages 17-19 years. Shuga I and II addresses issues of multiple concurrent partnership, peer pressure, alcohol and substance use and status knowledge among youth.” Not only does this contradict CRS’s claim that they “informed CDC that SAIDIA would not use this video within our abstinence and fidelity work,” but it calls into question its last line about continually reviewing and adjusting programs to ensure that they are in line with Catholic teaching. It is beyond inconsistent for CRS to assert that it informed CDC in quarter 3 of 2011 that it will not use Shuga because it is immoral, and then turn around and tell PEPFAR that it is considering the use of Shuga I and II for year five of the SAIDIA grant.
- CRS said that they phased out Shuga in the third quarter of FY 2010-2011. The report this information comes from was submitted by CRS to PEPFAR in September of 2011.
- This means that CRS was fully aware of how bad Shuga was no later than September of 2011, and because CRS said that they phased out Shuga in the third quarter, it’s likely that CRS was aware of Shuga’s vile nature as early as July of 2011 (three months prior, which would be the end of the third quarter and beginning of the fourth).
- In April of 2012, CRS filed a grant application to PEPFAR, saying that SAIDIA was considering using Shuga I and II. Bear in mind that this is 7-10 months after CRS said they shut down Shuga because it was immoral.
- In places throughout the application are indications that the numbers were current to March 29, 2012, which means that input was still being given at that late date.
- This means that CRS already had full knowledge for at least 7 months, and by as many as 10 months that Shuga was bad … and still, they said that SAIDIA was considering using Shuga I and II.
- Furthermore, Shuga series II didn’t debut until February of 2012, so for CRS to have referenced it means that they were current on what it was all about … and yet, they were considering it anyway: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
Once again, this illustrates a greater willingness on the part of CRS to look for a way to spin the information, so as to throw suspicion and guilt from its shoulders, than to sincerely investigate and examine concerns faithful Catholics have regarding its activities. It also illustrates the grave need on the part of the faithful to fast, and pray their daily Rosaries for our bishops and priests.