Thank you so much for your concern for our children, staff, and missionaries living at the Antananarivo, Madagascar center.
First and foremost, we are committed to the safety and welfare of the children in our care. Our hearts are grieved, and our ultimate goal is to spare the children any unnecessary exposure or exploitation. Their well-being now and in the future is our number one priority. We want you to know we are doing everything possible to restore health and wholeness to the center and all who live and serve there.
The allegations that have been presented recently are egregious and we are taking them very seriously. We would like to put them in context of Iris Global’s involvement with the center to date.
The Iris model is decentralized, and by design, ministry centers are managed independently. The founding director of the Madagascar center stepped out of active leadership in 2017 and appointed a Malagasy couple, without Iris Global’s input, who had already been serving in leadership to take over as directors. During their tenure, it was brought to our attention that there was discontentment on the part of staff and missionaries and could be possible financial mismanagement. We took the unprecedented step in November 2018 to send a small team of our leaders to Madagascar to assess their financial systems as well as the general wellness and team dynamics of the children’s center. At that time, they discovered there were not clear roles and responsibilities for staff and missionaries, children’s center conditions and procedures needed improvement, and proper financial controls were not in place.
Iris ministry center director Dr. Zafiropolous was tasked with developing and implementing a long-term plan to bring the center and team into a place of health. Dr. Zafiropolous is a certified behavioral therapist and the head of the Victim Empowerment Centre for the South African Police Services. She collaborated with the Madagascar team and those sent in by Iris Global to assess the challenges and create a path forward.
The implementation of the plan began in earnest in March 2019 with financial accountability measures put in place, some staff being let go, homes being renovated, placement of permanent house parents, and more. In August and September of that same year, sadly we learned of serious incidents being done to the children by other children and immediately alerted the Court of Children, as we are legally obligated to do. This discovery caused us to speed up our timeline to reunify children with safe biological family members, place others with adoption centers, and create even smaller family units for the remaining children. In December 2019, we were notified that allegations of Malagasy adult staff members abusing children were brought to the Court and we immediately responded to the Court that we were in full cooperation and transparency. They began interviewing those involved and we initiated an internal investigation of our own. As part of our internal investigation, we placed the accused individuals on administrative leave. Throughout this process, we have followed every recommendation passed down by the Court and are willingly complying with authorities to discern the truth. The case remains open and the investigations on-going.
This is a complex situation and there are very well-intentioned and compassionate people on all sides. It is our desire to ensure the best care for all children, staff, and missionaries in the Iris family. We are doing everything possible to internally investigate and externally cooperate with authorities and we greatly appreciate your prayers and support for everyone during this difficult time.
If you have further questions, please feel free to email us at email@example.com.