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mykim

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Review for Pacific Links Foundation, Milpitas, CA, USA

Rating: 5 stars  


Pacific Links Foundation (PALs) is the best international non-profit working against human trafficking in Vietnam today. PALs is a pioneer organization running 2 shelters for rescued victims while providing scholarships to young girls in the poorest regions of Vietnam, to increase their potential and value in society via education. I’ve learned that human trafficking relates to this, because these young girls live in the most at risk regions of Vietnam, where young girls and women are trafficked, exploited, and abused. Therefore, PALs has taken the initiative to empower these at risked girls through education, and the staff conducts annual visits on these girls and their families as apart of the follow up and building relationships approach. I have worked with other non-profit organizations, and have also examined the work of various NGOs, and one of the key things I’ve noticed is how essential the process of “follow up” is when distributing any form of charity to the people. For example, an organization (will not name) provided computers for students in a small village in the Philippines, but within less than a few months the computers were missing and used as personal property in the homes of the school and government officials. The students never got to learn how to use the computer due to the lack of follow up on that charity.

Working with Pacific Links Foundation, has allowed me to partake in multiple grassroots development work. I was able to go on scholarship visits for the first time with the PALs staff on a 3 weeks journey. We trekked out to the most rural villages of the Mekong Delta, and what I’ve seen was so beautiful yet tragic at the same time. Its beauties not only reside within the unique scenic landscapes of lotus ponds and rice patties, but in the potential of these young girls with a chance at a brighter future. While its tragedies root from poverty, which places extreme odds against these girls and their families, subjecting them to potential risks in abuse, exploitation, and human trafficking.
After the scholarship visits in An Giang, Kien Giang, and Don Thap, there are certain realizations that has cemented in my knowledge and understanding of these poor communities. I’ve learned that most of the parents of the scholarship recipients are of low to no education levels, which forces them to work in rice patties, construction, or laborious rented services. Their employment are based on seasonal changes, therefore most of them are without income during the dry season. This is common among the majority of our scholarship recipient families that we have spoken with.

I’ve caught a glimpse of how this country’s increase in development and globalization through foreign investment, import and export trade, has left the rural villages of Vietnam out of the economic prosperity loop. Forcing the villagers to re-adapt to the rise in prices of daily commodities, while their wages remain the same. These conditions have forced many villagers to migrate to the cities to for employment, which increases the rate of human trafficking both in the labor and sex industries. Every year students are forced to quit school in order to help financially support their parents. Most of these are young girls end up: working with their parents, migrate with a neighbor or relative for work, or stay at home to watch over their younger siblings.

I’ve visited about a dozen families a day and there were a few situations that stood out to me. One young girl was abandoned by both her parents after a divorce, leaving her wit her grandmother, who was a 70-year old woman, selling lottery tickets at 30-40,000 VND (1.50-2.00 USD) a day to support her. Her grandmother was uneducated and has lived a laborious life, and did not want the same for her granddaughter. She was thankful for our support. She said, “You know, I couldn’t do this alone, thanks to your organization, my granddaughter can have an education. I am old but I will try my best to support her going to school for as long as I can do this job.” This family stood out to me, because the grandmother’s immense love and sacrifice for the young girl who lacks the presence and support of her mother and father.

There were various situations outside of school that our organization was unable to assist, but it was evident that these circumstances worked against the girls’ educational efforts. Some of the scholarship recipients had no bicycle for school, no electricity to do homework at night, worked graveyard hours with parents, and usually get teased by classmates for being poor. I’ve also gather some interesting information pertaining to the miscommunication between parents and schoolteachers about the availability of tutoring to assist the students in school. All these were issues that I’ve recorded during the interviews, and these issues are the main causes that have deter the girls from accelerating in school. I’m aware that these obstacles are out of our control to resolve, but it’s good to be aware of them, so that we can better support these girls.

I’ve also noted the majority of the families are now more aware of the increase in human trafficking through news, radio, school, woman’s union and our organization. So the awareness campaigns have fulfill its purpose in reaching the at risk population. I’m glad to be apart of such a great grassroots development project, that empowers the girls through the gift of knowledge, while preventing the risk of them being trafficked. I hope this scholarship program continues to expand and assist these young girls who would not have a chance otherwise.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Role:  Volunteer