- What is your organization’s vision in the next 5-10 years?
Pacific Links Foundation assumed in 2005 at the start of our counter-trafficking efforts that the issue would be managed within five years. After over a decade of work, however, we realized that 1) trafficking is increasing and is one of the most serious development issues facing Vietnam; and2) we must continue delivering innovative, grassroots, long-term scalable solutions that address the constantly-changing changing circumstances of the trafficking trade and needs of at-risk people and survivors.
We aim to scale our impact over the next three to five years by expanding 1) FACT to reach 100,000+ workers; 2) academic scholarships to 2,000 students; 3) reintegration services to include a 24/7 teleconferencing platform to support first responders outside of Vietnam; and 4) services for at-risk youth and survivors to the Vietnam-Laos border. To achieve this expansion, we plan to 1) increase the number of local Vietnamese staff 2) engage more advocates/ambassadors; 3) participate in meetings for youth and worker’s empowerment; 4) invest in board development, performance measurement, and grant development; and 6) build a sustained funding model for continued growth.
In five to 10 years we hope to 1) continue expanding the reach of our programs and adapt them and develop new ones to meet the changing parameters human trafficking; 2) expand our organization to hire more local Vietnamese staff and build their capacity through training and direct work experience; and 3) grow and deepen our partnerships so that everyone, including the at-risk population, trafficking survivors, parents, teachers, community leaders, companies investing in Vietnam, and local and international governments and law enforcement, understands the complicated and comprehensive nature of human trafficking, how it affects Vietnam’s overall development, and their role in stopping it.
- What sets you apart from organizations with similar missions?
Since 2005, Pacific Links Foundation has delivered innovative and successful solutions to prevent and combat trafficking. We work in 15 Vietnamese provinces empowering the most vulnerable against trafficking at the borders of Cambodia, China, and Laos, and industrial zones—places where few resources flow and are highly targeted by traffickers. No similar work is being done in our coverage areas in the north, central, and south because no other human trafficking organization in Vietnam has similar permission from provincial and national governments to operate throughout the country. We have provided direct outreach, education, and economic opportunities to 50,000+ vulnerable people, and we operate two of the three long-term reintegration shelters for female trafficking victims in Vietnam. Our team is fluent in Vietnamese with years of grassroots experience working directly with victims, vulnerable populations, and local partners in a culturally competent context.
In Vietnam, it is challenging to implement large-scale, grassroots anti-human trafficking programs due to the country’s decentralized political structure; uneven and rapidly changing development; and limited resources. Out of necessity, Pacific Links Foundation has spent the last 12 years developing innovative and effective solutions within these limitations that address the complex root causes and current and future trends, and reach the maximum number of beneficiaries. Our firsthand, longtime experience working with at-risk communities and trafficking survivors at the grassroots level provides critical insight on what support is most needed for prevention, recovery, and reintegration. In order to ensure the best futures for our beneficiaries, we’ve learned to extract every advantage from our resources and differentiate between a quality outcome with long-term, positive effects and a standard outcome with more superficial results.
- How do you define/measure success? What kinds of metrics can demonstrate how effective your project is?
We focus on transforming vulnerable populations into empowered populations, and how we measure and define success and our metrics depends on the specific program, as we have trafficking prevention programs for at-risk populations, long-term reintegration programs for survivors so they don’t become re-victimized or turn into traffickers, and institutional capacity building and training partnerships with Vietnamese social workers and law enforcement. We’ve identified through our research partners the five factors that make someone vulnerable to being trafficked—gender, identity, economics, education, and law enforcement—and create programs that directly tackle one or more of these root causes. We measure the outcomes of our programs by looking at metrics such as the number of vulnerable people understanding trafficker’s tactics and how to protect themselves and their loved ones, the change in school drop-out rates of girls at risk for being trafficked, the number of survivors in our reintegration program who graduate from traditional/non-traditional schooling and go on to higher education or enter the workforce, and the number of social workers and law enforcement receiving prevention and victim-centric support training. The data analysis is done in the short- and medium-term, and we are currently seeking support to complete evaluation of our older programs to measure their long-term effectiveness.
- How can I help beyond fundraising money for the org through CPP?
We need mid- to long-term volunteers! We often receive offers and requests for volunteering in Vietnam, but we specifically need passionate volunteers who understand Vietnamese culture and have, at minimum, basic language skills. This is due to the grassroots nature of our anti-human trafficking programs, as we work directly with the at-risk population and trafficking survivors in the border regions of Vietnam. UNAVSA members can collaborate with Pacific Links Foundation by:
- Volunteering for our activities in Vietnam (teaching English; leading workshops at summer camp, youth forum, or retreat for trafficking survivors)
- Serving as e-mentors for youth leaders of ADAPT Club (after-school youth development club that builds leadership/core life skills)
- Interning in Pacific Links Foundation’s Vietnam or US offices to improve/develop skills such as bicultural/bilingual communications, fundraising, etc.
- Hosting advocacy campaigns and events
- Volunteer organizational support such as web design/social media, accounting, copy-editing, translating documents between Vietnamese and English, etc.
Each year also we accept fellows through the Volunteers in Asia program; you can read more about the post and how to apply here: https://viaprograms.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Pacific-Links-2017.pdf
- How are you collaborating with other organizations on a local, region, or national level?
Human trafficking is globalization at its worst, and too big for any one organization to handle. The success and effectiveness of our work depends on our myriad of partnerships within Vietnam and in the overseas transit and destination countries. Our network includes multinationals, local companies, influential individuals, and experts in key sectors of social care, health, education, immigration and criminal justice. In Vietnam, we work directly with our local government partners and the community on program activity implementation. Based on our years of grassroots program experience, the results often are that the local partners will incorporate the knowledge and tools over time into their regular activities, whether it is the school, local social welfare department, or family unit. We also partner with other NGOs and organizations in Vietnam such as KOTO, Streets International, Hanoi International Women’s Club, Home for Hope, Hagar International, and Vietnam Education Society to provide additional life skills resources and education/job training opportunities for our trafficking survivors so that they can eventually become gainfully employed and successfully re-enter society. Internationally, we partner with organizations in Cambodia, Malaysia, South Korea, Taiwan, France, the UK, Germany, and Ireland to provide support for Vietnamese trafficking victims and exploited migrants found in those countries, and collaborate to help victims navigate the bureaucratic process of safe repatriation. We also work closely with the UK government to conduct research, implement prevention programs, and provide reintegration support for trafficking survivors, as Vietnam is the number one source country for child trafficking victims in the UK and second for all adults.