Thursday, January 14, 2010

Mission, Methods and Resources

This post is one that I write with humility and still some trying to figure it all out, but it comes out of the most uneasy place that I felt while I was in Cambodia. The title reflects my work with the non profit minor at NCSU. When I was in grad school I helped teach a couple non profit classes. One of the things I did was help the students think through the challenges and benefits of bringing together your mission, methods and resources with integrity and a couple other values that are escaping me at the moment.

Anyways, after our dinner in Battambang we headed back to the Trade School to do a few interviews. The intention of having several of the women tell their stories was so that we could bring back a video and show it to our churches to get support.

Having individual stories to share and real faces to go along with the often overwhelming reality is helpful in raising money and motivating action.

However, I could tell that Randa was pretty stressed about asking the women to share. I was uncomfortable because it wasn't my idea, but I was the one who would be sitting next to these complete strangers and telling their stories into the camera as if I were their friend...

One of the things I learned during training in trafficking work is that having people share for publicity can be hurtful and exploitative, even if we mean it for good... I asked Brian (Board Member) if the women were okay with sharing their stories, he said, "They will share them..." People, will do a lot of things that aren't the best for us...

Anyways, I didn't ask any other questions.
Honestly, I just wanted to know the stories myself.

So, Randa, Setun (camera man) and myself set up for an interview with Sarim and Saran. Sarim had to stop half way through and shook her head like she didn't want to continue. She didn't speak any English, so I just put my hand on her leg and looked her in the eye.

Hopefully I communicated compassion.

After the interviews were over I asked if I could hug them. They received this well and I do feel connected to Sarim and Saran more now than I did before and hope that they get to fulfill their dreams of working in a factory or owning their own sowing shop. I did see hope in their eyes and thankfulness for a chance for a new way of life.

Transform Asia is doing a lot of good, and this is evident from their stories.

Just like when I was in grad school, balancing mission, methods and resources is still a challenge for non profits who desire to help and need money to do it.

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