am optimistic person by nature, but when I look around the world as it is at present, I’m dismayed by what I see. On every continent, with the exception of Antarctica (at least for now), there is authoritarian oppression, corporate greed and a flagrant disregard for even the most basic human rights which in many cases is manifested in conflict, genocide, displacement, hunger and poverty all exacerbated by global warming, a raging pandemic and a general lack of political will to address any of the issues arising.
For most poor and indigenous people this deteriorating situation is life threatening-a daily struggle for survival that many are losing. The UN tells us that as a percentage there are less people in poverty than ever before. But given a global population that has risen from around six billion to almost eight billion in only 20 years, more people than ever subsist at or below the poverty level and die from malnutrition and disease, or as collateral damage in one of the many conflicts. As always women and children are the worst affected.
Poverty is a global issue. So having a little spare cash and wanting to help in some small way, I initially looked to large humanitarian organisations with a world-wide reach like the UN, UNICEF and WHO. But concerns about top-heavy overheads and the general lack of transparency of these massive agencies, left me unsure as to whether any donation I might make would be used effectively and for my intended purpose. That concern turned to alarm in the light of events involving UN personnel in Haiti and WHO personnel in the DRC.
I needed to find a smaller, trustworthy organization where I could be sure that any support I gave would be used to address that aspect of poverty alleviation that is my primary concern: the education and health of women and children. This focus is derived from my professional experience working with poor communities mainly in Africa and South-East Asia and my belief in the simple two word reply Christopher Hitchens gave when asked what he would do to resolve world poverty. He simply replied, “Empower women”.
In Philanthropy Connections Foundation (PCF) I have found just such an organization. PCF is based in Chiang Mai, Thailand and is made up of a small team of dedicated young people, led by its compassionate but practical founder and Executive Director Sallo Polak. PCFs work is focused mainly on poor communities in Myanmar, Cambodia and Thailand, although it has recently been drawn into providing emergency aid to refugees escaping oppression in Myanmar and others seeking aid as a result of the Covid pandemic.
Working with trusted NGOs, PCF closely scrutinizes every request for assistance to ensure merit and feasibility, carefully monitors programme or project performance, and exercises strict quality control over output and financial control over fund dispersement.
PCF provides me with detailed accounts of exactly how donations I make are spent, and always seeks my approval for any changes in allocation or on ways in which any residual funds are utilized. It also issues an annual report with detailed audited accounts indicating the amount and source of its income, expenditure on the range of programmes and projects it supports, and details of all overhead costs including fund raising, management and administration.
In summary, I continue to support PCF because it addresses the issues that concern me most (i.e. women and children/health and education) and operates with complete accountability and transparency.
It’s as simple as that.