I have been interviewed a few times before on my voluntary work… for magazines and newspapers. I didn’t have much problem with that.
But I have also turned down to be interviewed live on TV to talk about the same thing.
Last week I got an email from a researcher representing a TV Production, searching around for materials for a community based programme, who got to know of my voluntary work through this blog. This person was asking how they (the production) could help me so I could continue to help others.
A very tempting offer indeed but frankly I don’t even know where to start to suggest how they can help me in view of the confidentiality issues involved. When I mentioned about confidentiality, the person suggested that the focus will be on me, telling the stories of the various families without showing their pictures or mentioning their names… what are the problems faced etc.
Of course, there’s a good side to that:
1. Such a show can help to create awareness amongst the public on the problems faced by the HIV families, and problems faced by us volunteers in carrying out our work.
2. The publicity would be good in getting funding.
the problem of whether to go high profile or to keep a low profile had always been a dilemma for us. Too low a profile, and it’ll difficult to get funding to run the NGO and to help out the HIV families. Too high a profile, and our HIV clients may no longer feel comfortable being seen with us, what more to have us visiting them at their homes.
Well yeah, one TV appearance will not make you famous, but once you accept one offer, you may not have an excuse to turn down another, and so you may end up doing one appearance after another. After a while, people may or may not start recognising you. Imagine me visiting a client, and a neighbor sees me and asks, “Ni yang hari tu keluar TV cerita pasal nak tolong keluarga-keluarga HIV tu kan?” Imagine how my clients would feel. Even without neighbors recognising me, the clients themselves may feel that the neighbors are thinking that way – and so they will no longer feel comfortable with my visits.
Besides, for some of these families, their children/in-laws etc do not know about their HIV status. All they know is that I come visiting from time to time because they come from poor families. Imagine if they end up watching me on TV telling the public about the HIV families I visit?
Let’s just go back to the main objective of our NGO… that is to provide support to people living with HIV and their families. We need to gain their trust and confidence to be able to do so.
And so we need to go on a so-so profile, not too high and not too low. Awareness is still important of course, thus I resorted to creating awareness through this blog and through my FB account. The next option is for me to start writing a book. In fact I already have plans to write one in Malay.
But to appear on TV to talk about my work with the HIV families? Errmm… for the moment I don’t think so. It’s different if I don’t do house visits…