We all know that collaboration and partnership is important for development of sound and sustainable projects – especially among as diverse and disconnected stakeholders as exists in counter-trafficking efforts today. What does that look like for Relentless? Since moving to Thailand, these few months have been devoted to networking: figuring out who is doing what and how I can get involved. What can I bring to the table? How can I serve you? The following is a snapshot of developing conversations and projects that are currently taking place.
Chab Dai, is a coalition of organizations in Cambodia who come together under the Chab Dai umbrella to share ideas, partner with one another, and accomplish certain things that they cannot as a single organization. As the medical adviser to the coalition, we are working on assessing the medical and health needs of the aftercare shelters and then developing projects to bridge those gaps.
San Jai, similar to Chab Dai, is a network of organizations working in various ways for the protection and well-being of people who have been abused, trafficked, or otherwise exploited. Through this network I am able to connect with many organizations who have the same needs, and I can work to meet those needs, much in the same way as I am in Cambodia.
Because prevention is vital to counter- trafficking efforts, my work also encompasses issues of child protection and children’s homes. While Thailand does have a government social welfare system that oversees the children’s home industry (and it is quite that here), it has not been given the resources it needs to do the job as well as it needs, and the people want. Development of specific standards (e.g. sanitation, medical checks, child protection, etc), and enforcement of those standards is urgently needed. Currently, I am part of a team working do develop a set of minimum standards that hopefully will be adopted by the social welfare department and used to raise the standard of care for children.
Relentless continues to develop relationships with certain organizations who want to use health and medicine as an outreach tool to vulnerable populations. As we begin working together and finding a good rhythm for these projects, look for more “red-light” clinics.
There is a longer list of needs and goals that Relentless is working towards meeting – all in various stages of planning and doing. Research into the specific health needs of children is one of my priorities. This all takes time and perseverance to work with these diverse groups, but the rewards are rich.