The Swedish author of the trilogy with focus on the topic of human trafficking in Southeast Asia has launched a new effort to promote donations directly to selected NGO’s doing on-the-ground efforts.
The Swedish author of the ‘River trilogy’ with human trafficking in Southeast Asia at the heart of the story, Staffan Nordstrand, has started an information platform as a way to promote direct donations to organisations active on the ground. International agencies need not to apply though. Those are just costly middlemen aiming primarily at financing their own organisations, he, like many others, thinks.
The Property developer come author, come anti human trafficking campaigner Staffan Nordstrand is not on the same page as the large international aid agencies.
Due to his books surrounding the topic of human trafficking, and his involvement as a speaker, he was approached by several of them in Sweden. In one case they wanted him to educate their staff based on his insights – so they could sell better. That led to him looking at it from a completely different viewpoint and seeing through their business intentions. So Staffan turned away from them when he got to see how they operate and spend the money, given by people, on fancy addresses and expensive cars.
“For many organisations it’s important for them to get funding in order to cover their own costs. That is the number one priority; it’s not to collect money to those in need – forget that!” claims staffan.
“I thought: I should make sure to connect donors and receivers directly instead of helping financing expensive offices in Stockholm!”
Bee with us
It all came together with the ending of The Last Journey, the last book in his River trilogy launched earlier this year as hardback, where some of the characters in the book decides to initiate an action campaign: Bee with us (Bee as in the name of one of them).
With own experiences from trafficking they decide they should do something to inform the world since having insights on the topic. In doing so they speak for the author.
Initially he came in touch with this world when he started to take an interest in the stories related to him from workers under his supervision as a developer of residential homes in Phuket.
A number of years travelling and research gathering followed which has resulted in three documentary novels.
And now Staffan brings fiction into the real world with this new international aid initiative – without middlemen.
The website Beewithus.com does two main things. First, spreads information on trafficking of children and young people within the sex industry and manufacturing in Asia. Second, it links donors with quality-assured recipients in South-east Asia, without any middlemen involved just spending large parts of the funds. Donations will go directly and in whole to the particular operation being supported by people.
“Many of my colleagues and friends have, like myself, drawn the conclusion and been surprised that so little of the donations reaches those who need them the most, despite that so many people wish to help the cause. There are so many competent organisations out there doing an excellent job. These need means, but their existence do not reach the donors,” he elaborates on the website.
“What I want is that if you want to donate all of it should go to the receiver, giving the receiving part strength to continue.”
Books promoting the cause
Bee with us will also outreach via holding lectures and advocacy work. At the Göteborg Book Fair (Gothenburg, Sweden) held in September Staffan had a booth designed to reflect the slum in Bangkok, to promote the new campaign and the River trilogy. Staffan also attended a symposium on trafficking as speaker.
Given the serious topic behind the trilogy the books have sold well, and only during the book fair Staffan signed some 500 books. The first book has sold around 30,000 of the pocket version in Stockholm alone. Translation into English and other languages is in the works.
The books and Bee with us constitute various parts of the same effort to counteract human trafficking and prostitution with exploitation of those poor and vulnerable.
“More organisations should inform about human trafficking. We know that at present this is the largest form of slavery ever on earth. And slavery is something we abolished globally a long time ago. And yet the sex trade and sex slavery has not been stopped, hence we need to start a new war to stop it,” states Bee with us.
“Child sex trade, young girls and boys, kidnappings… that’s where we should work hard to fight it. I think it’s very important that people come to understand that tourism plays one part, on Bangla road, in Phuket, for instance – which is a bit scenic, while the main user is the Asian person. 90 per cent in the brothels are locals. And that is not to say that it’s irrelevant with the tourists coming here and using the sex trade, which they do,” Staffan explains his view.
Tourists seeing something involving other tourists, what can they do?
“Confront them and report to the authorities,” replies Staffan. And don’t sanction places like Bangla road by taking your family there to look around at what is forbidden back home but somehow acceptable just because being on holiday!”
And through Bee with us one can become active.
“Forget governments and go down to field-level and try to connect locally with the police etc. Build small cells that work together and get joined later in a central part. Top-down control won’t work.”
Through its expanding network Bee with us contact persons, organisations and companies across borders. Local representatives that get chosen help to identify the various local aid agencies’ background, economy, education plans and history – currently in Bangladesh, Burma , Cambodia, Laos, Nepal, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.
Education on the programme is a must criteria and the funding can only go into running the operations, without excesses.
“There must be a background, and track record of what they have spent funding on previously.”
Bee with us then spreads knowledge about its straightforward information operation to all possible messengers and hope that the receiver will understand the possibilities. The advocacy does not and will not raise funds in the future, but will only function to impart donations.
“We are there to ensure that people can donate to those who are really in need. We help to help.”
Staffans intends to be an ambassador for this cause.
“And I think we need more ambassadors for this. It is very important that it’s not only me, I am only one human being, but that more enthusiastic person join so that we can all go out and be one within Bee with us and make sure that something radical comes out of it. In the beginning we should build locally and bring awareness out in the schools. It’s the children we must reach out to: they are the future, so they go home to their families and say that trafficking is forbidden.”