Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sea Monkeys and Human Trafficking

Lately, I have been reading and hearing about a number of organizations and the things they are doing in the area of human trafficking. From informational campaigns to organizations claiming to be working with victims, the stories are incredible. Or are they?

When I was a kid, I used to love reading comic books - it didn't much matter what it was - Iron Man, Justice League - they were all pretty cool. But, on the back of almost every comic book was an ad. This was a magical ad that captured every boys imagination. Every kid I knew coveted this ad - the infamous sea monkeys. The picture alone was like catnip for kids. You could become the master of the universe with your own kingdom of servant sea monkeys. With arms, legs, faces, and should we dare say - personality (look at the picture again!), this was the ultimate. Unbelievable!

My story isn't original. No - it is many kids stories. I ordered it. I waited about three weeks, when it finally arrived in the plain, brown wrapping...it seemed a little light for an entire kingdom of sea monkeys, but who am I to judge. So, I get it all out on the table and there is a 'packet' of my new subjects...a packet? Next, I get my tank ready, add the water, and pour in my instant sea monkeys and viola! Hey, wait a second...they are all dead! Oh, um, maybe not...it was nothing but shrimp brine! I got ripped off...in the tank floats little obscure white things that don't even have a shape, let along a personality...okay, okay, enough of the story.

What I am getting at is this - in the area of sex trafficking, there are a lot of people attempting to capitalize on the fact that there is tremendous interest in this topic. So, people create a front page website and start taking in donations. Other organizations have even taken their orphanages or other projects working with children and started calling them 'anti-trafficking' projects. Why? To answer this simply, I don't know. I suspect it is a money-making venture, as well as, an attempt to get on the band wagon of human trafficking.

This is disturbing, because there are a number of great organizations working very hard and struggling for dollars to keep their work afloat. When glossy organizations come in and begin dividing up the already small pie, it hurts - not just the organization, but the children that we are helping.

Working with trafficking victims is not glamorous or easy and you don't get rich doing it. At least the people that I know. The people I know are in the trenches working hard to make a difference and we sacrifice a lot to work in this field. So, I guess that this is a 'buyer beware' blog - carefully check out non-profits that you are considering donating money to or assisting in any way. Ask them exactly what they do and if they have any references. Trust me - if they are legitimate, someone knows them and respects the work they are doing.
I have a broad network of people working with anti-trafficking projects - both legitimate and those that make amazing claims of what they are doing to assist victims of sex trafficking. A little checking around and critical thinking will help you make informed decisions about who and what you put your good name and money to. Remember, just because they say they are doing something doesn't mean it is true.

My soap box is almost over - so, here is my last point - if the claims are incredible, it is likely that they are not true. In the words of Public Enemy "Don't believe the hype". Claims of amazing child rescues and incredible aftercare programs require some corroboration from other organizations that they partner with. In this field, nothing is accomplished alone. We work together, like pieces of a puzzle. Rescuing children is a process, not an event. Any lone rangers out working by themselves are just that - lone rangers looking for money, approval, and recognition for something that they are either not really doing or doing irresponsibly.
If you have questions about a particular project, organization, or methodology, ask around. Everyone in this field wants the best possible services to go toward helping victims and addressing this issue. Most will welcome your queries and are open about their work (barring confidential or sensitive information that might compromise them, victims in their care, or their work). I would be happy to assist or point you in the right direction, if you have questions or concerns. In the meantime, we appreciate your support of the work we are doing to empower girls to recapture their futures.

1 comment:

  1. I find myself working in Thailand, and Indochina, and reading your website would like to help in someway. What do you suggest, how could i help your organization. Also, do you know of the organization Somaly Mam Foundation, and what it does to help in this issue.