Saturday, January 09, 2010


NGOS (aka "charities") by nature are rarely self reflective organisations. The bigger they get, the more they are driven by the need to advance their own interests. There are notable exceptions, but it takes a very grounded NGO to stay focused on helping people rather than just getting their logo better known.

I've been thinking about this issue since I posted my last blog. In our work in Hue, we believe that one day in the forseeable future, our work will be finished. The end of child trafficking in certain communities in central Vietnam will one day be a thing of the past.

In three villages where dozens of children were being trafficked just 2 years ago, there is now no trafficking at all. The kids we rescued from factories on our last two trips were from a district of Hue province that was completely new to us. In other words, we have put a stop to child trafficking in the district we started in 3 years ago, and have now been able to move on to the next district.

But if you spend some time on google and do a search on the words "child trafficking increase" or "child trafficking on-the-rise", you'll come up with countless NGOs making press releases about how trafficking is getting worse, not better, and how therefore they need more of your money.

To which I can only say: FAIL.

If they are declaring that, despite all the millions of dollars they have so far spent, the problem is getting worse rather than better, do they really have the right to ask you for more donations? How will "more of the same" help if the problem is getting worse?

NGOs have a vested interest in declaring panic and emergency. Don't believe them. If they are spending millions and then saying the situation is deteriorating, they're either lying or failing. Either way, they don't deserve your support.