THEY WILL ASK thee as to what they should spend on others. Say: "Whatever of your wealth you spend shall [first] be for your parents, and for the near of kin, and the orphans, and the needy, and the wayfarer; and whatever good you do, verily, God has full knowledge thereof." - Al-Baqarah (2:215)

Monday, 28 June 2010

The problem if we go public…

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.

BUT…

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…

17 comments:

Yati Harvey said...

Spot on Pi...sebab tu I like living in the shadows....whatever that we do, biarlah kebaikan yg diperolehi.

Cat-in-Sydney said...

Aunty Pi,
Let's make a deal. Let me do the TV appearance, no worry coz you don't take me on house visits, kan? I don't mind the nosy neighbours telling me - eh, ni kucing yang tolong orang HIV tu kan? What say you? har har har *evil laughs*

Udang di balik mihun,
Brad

Pi Bani said...

K. Intan,
Yep, apa-apa hal pun, we need to go back to our original intention kan? We want to help the families, then must make sure they are comfortable with us.

Pi Bani said...

Brad,
Ni tak lain nak jadi kucing glamour lah ni...

Cat-in-Sydney said...

Aunty Pi,
Buddies will be the only Malaysian NGO that's going to have Brad Pitt as their ambassador. Tak mau ke? har har har *evil laughs*

Pi Bani said...

Brad dear,
For the moment Buddies want to remain a low profile NGO - having a gila glamour cat as ambassador will not help. If we do sign you up, it won't be as ambassador, but as... errmmm... mascot maybe? Muahaha!!

Anonymous said...

You all should have a PR person only for this kind of publicity so that the people actually doing the work is not involve. Seems you really need more publicity for funding and public awareness!

Pi Bani said...

Anonymous,
We're just a small organisation with few volunteers. In addition to the confidentiality issues, we have to take into consideration whether we can actually cope with wider publicity. More publicity may mean more workload. For the moment, all our members have agreed that we shouldn't go into high profile. Besides, the main objective of our NGO is to provide support to the HIV infected/affected families - and that shall remain as our top priority.

Funding-wise, so far we're doing ok, thanks to the "professional beggars" we have on board... hehehe... even using our low profile approach, we have already managed to get sponsors for the educational needs of 21 needy children while a few others not under the sponsorship program are covered by our Children Education Fund.

Maybe later on if and when we grow bigger, then maybe we should reconsider our position.

Tommy Yewfigure said...

Wah Pi, I memang respect your way of thinking. If only many others would think like you, a lot of good things will get done professionally & discreetly. Good idea to write a book & hopefully it can be used in a weekly TV drama with actors playing the parts as closed to what’s written. Good Luck!

Tommy,

P/S – Now which actress would u like to play your part….kekeke.

Pi Bani said...

Tommy,
Which actress to play my part? Hmmm... let's see... must get newcomer lah... but someone tall and beautiful. Wakakaka! (or should that be waka waka ay ay?)

Cat-in-Sydney said...

Aunty Pi,
Mascot? OK deal! Can I design my own plush toy? Ooooohhh...the thought of all those SYTs cuddling my soft toy is so...hmmm... indescribable. har har har *evil laughs*

Wan Sharif said...

Salam Pi,
Do what you and your fellow volunteers feel comfortable.. InsyaALLAH everything will fall into its place, Saya yakin Allah bersama anda sekelian dalam segala usaha anda yang mendekatkan anda pada hambanya yang memerlukan...

Pi Bani said...

Brad,
The SYTs will not be cuddling your soft toy (we already have our Buddy Bears), but instead they will picit-picit YOU (sampai keluar isi perut...).

Pi Bani said...

Wan Sharif,
Yep, I guess we will have to decide for ourselves what is best for us and our clients kan?

Aasiyaa said...

What if they apply some techniques where they camouflage your name, voice and make your appearance shadowy like they did in some productions that need high level of confidentiality?

Pi Bani said...

Hmmm... camouflage? Buat suara macam Doraemon maybe? Hehehe....

anom said...

Salam Kak Pi.. I understand your predicament..and I respect your/your NGO's decision. Betul jugak apa yang you kata..

The book writing is a brilliant idea and Mr Tommy's idea of putting it in Drama/Film using ur book as a guide is even more brilliant. Let me know if you are interested to pursue Tommy's idea. We might be able to do something about funding.