Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Money well spent?

Over the past few weeks, an old friend of Blue Dragon from Australia has been volunteering with us - Doug Everett, a senior accountant who has come to us for the second time through Australian Business Volunteers. His job is to work with our accountant to finetune the accounting system, prepare for an audit, and help us draft budgets for the coming year. I don't really understand all that much, but I think I have worked out when to smile and nod.

I like to think of us as a low-budget, high-impact NGO. There aren't many groups around that can do what we do, with as little as we have. That's my boast, and I'm sticking to it.

So when another organisation comes along and announces a multi-million project, I'm pretty interested. And just a touch jealous.

This week a media release has come through the email from USAID, the American government's aid agency. They are working with MTV (yes, that's right. MTV) to distribute anti-trafficking messages throughout Asia. At a cost of about $14million USD.

OK, so that sounds like an innovative approach, right? Reaching out to young people through a popular medium to warn and educate them about the dangers of being trafficked between countries.


Well, except that I don't think people who have cable TV in their home are at very high risk of being trafficked. And I am not so sure the traffickers will be tuned in to MTV, either.

One of the teen girls we have been working with here in Hanoi has recently vanished; her family has no idea where she is and the word on the street is that she's been taken to China. If she has, she's in pretty serious trouble. Trafficking from Vietnam to China and Cambodia is all too common - it's a very long border, and obviously difficult to police. Once across the border, the stories are terrifying yet very predictable.

Let's hope that this young girl and her traffickers are somewhere with cable, so they get the message...

Am I overreacting? Does this seem like a good use of $14million?

1 comment:

Komoi said...

I've been volunteering at Little Rose Shelter in HCMC for the past 5 months and while I'm sure we could put this money to very good use (...starting with a day at the spa for all of the hard working social workers!) your post reiterates what I've observed. One, that my home country is very good at spending money but has a very hard time listening to people and really hearing their needs. Two, that there already very effective interventions being carried out by local community members who need more support.