There are some things in this world that simply boggle the mind—things that are so terrible, so obviously wrong they seem almost unreal. How anyone can look into the eyes of another human being, then sell that human being like a piece of meat… I don’t have the words. I know desperation makes people do awful things. I absolutely have empathy for those who break the law to feed their families, for example. People who break the law to protect their loved ones are not the problem, they are victims of the problem. The traffickers, however, the people who prey on desperation… I don’t have a shred of empathy for them. What they do is horrific, criminal, and unforgivable. Catalyst Foundation recognizes the multifaceted problem of human trafficking, and they are working with communities to make a difference.
Catalyst Foundation is based in Vietnam, in a rural part of the Mekong Delta. This is an extremely poor area where families are forced to sell their daughter’s innocence to survive. Babies are born, grow old, and die living in garbage. Catalyst Foundation works to address every aspect of the problem: food, education, housing, health care, and other basic human needs. They build communities and raise awareness to protect citizens from those who would prey on their need. They believe the local people know what needs to be done, so they work closely with community leaders to work the problems.
Catalyst Foundation is a lesson in smart management. Their website is well designed and full of information about their mission, techniques, and their founder, Caroline Nguyen Ticarro-Parker. Her story is part of what makes the organization so soulful. She was born in Saigon in 1970 but immigrated to the US when she was five years old. When she married and decided she wanted children of her own, she and her husband decided to adopt from Vietnam. It was that trip, to Vinh Long orphanage, that demonstrated just how lucky she had been to grow up in the US. The poverty and pain of the children and families in her home country inspired her to do something to help.
When organizations share the personal stories of their founders, it reinforces their mission, demonstrates their sincerity, and puts a face on their work. It also gives the media a person to interview, feature, or profile. Catalyst Foundation also has a strong online presence with social media properties, links to multimedia content, and plenty of information on how volunteers and donors can get involved. It’s great to see such an important organization run so well. Their efforts have resulted in extraordinary press, with celebrity endorsements from people like Bill Clinton and Amanda Seyfried, and a partnership with The CNN Freedom Project. Unlike some, this is a well established, strong, legitimate organization well worth supporting.