Monday, December 05, 2005

Honest Critiques are Always Welcome

Critics of the social entrepreneurship initiatives of NSE at Wealth Bondage (excepting the editor, Happy Tutor, and one Bulldog) were eager to indict and convict NSE of wrong doing based on negative reports from some 14 years ago. They were less eager to discuss NSE's current humanitarian initiatives. They were keen to link to unbalanced criticisms of NSE, but apparently unwilling to cite more objective comment. I don't doubt the good motives of our critics at WB, but a rush to judgement is no substitute for solid debate.

Should we be doing more? Yep. Should we be condemned and damned for our lack of perfection? That depends on your theological orientation.

This entry is my olive branch and invitation to all honest critics: discuss and debate the merit of social entrepreneurship generally, and NTC specifically, with us. Our Alliance exists to save the lives of children. If your critique of our SE methods can help us save more lives, then no matter how unpalatable the analysis, it is welcome. ("The same hammer that shatters the glass strengthens the steel.")

The following report from the New Straits Times is a little more current, and perhaps a little more objective than some we have seen in recent days.

Any comments?

New Straits Times - Malaysia "Together with his compatriots in public and private medical facilities, Dr Pirapat performs weekend and evening surgeries, and they have saved 2,354 children in the past eight years. Dr Pirapat himself cared for around 2,000 of them.

The PCSF gains funding for these efforts from various sources, not least of which is the Nu Skin South-East Asia Children’s Heart Fund (SEA CHF). The SEA CHF was set up in 2003, born out of a pledge made by direct-selling company Nu Skin.

Nu Skin sells personal care and nutritional products, and has committed to various charitable causes in the regions where it operates. Nu Skin Thailand began aiding the PCSF in 1999, and four years later the SEA CHF was launched, incorporating Nu Skin enterprises in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Brunei.

To date, the SEA CHF has amassed over RM560,000, through donations, fund-raising activities and the sale of premium products.

“What we have left of the fund, which amounts to around US$60,000 (RM226,698) is being divided into two parts,” the urbane, bespectacled doctor explains in his precisely measured voice.

“The first part is to train more medical personnel, especially surgeons. We hope to set up a fellowship or a scholarship to send people abroad for study. And the second part is for treatment directly, to help save children.”

Last year, Nu Skin helped to set up a new Children’s Intensive Care Unit at the Rajavithi Hospital, to deal with the large backlog of cases. It’s there that Ray and Jackie are currently housed, and it’s there that they receive a visit from a contingent of Nu Skin representatives, assembled from throughout the region to inspect the progress of their charity efforts.Direct-selling usually attracts a certain sort of personality — communicative, motivated, enthusiastic and outgoing — so the children are slightly overwhelmed, surrounded by well-wishers bearing shocking pink SEA CHF T-shirts and flashing cameras.

Ray appears unable to decide whether she approves or disapproves, while Jackie remains impassive.Even though so much more needs to be done within Thailand itself, Dr Pirapat believes that with enough aid of the sort that he’s been receiving from Nu Skin and the SEA CHF, the influence of the PCSF can spread further. So far, it has only aided one child from the rest of the region, a Filipina.“This region of the world is in great need of a children’s heart centre.

In Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar they have no real medical infrastructure, and there isn’t a congenital heart disease centre in Vietnam. So this would be our long-term project.It might seem like quite a big one, but the money that’s required to set up a centre shouldn’t be more than US$5 million, and then we’d only need money for treatment.” And Thailand is one of the best places in the region for such treatment.

Surgery is cheap — a corrective procedure that costs US$30,000 in an American hospital would only cost US$7,000 in Bangkok, where medical facilities are more than up to the task.In terms of the infrastructure-to-cost ratio, it’s the best place to send children from throughout the region.The obstacles ahead are more than just financial, though; there is still the need to create awareness about the problem and its solutions.

When Jackie’s irregular heartbeat was first detected he was only two months old, his parents Montha and Samphong Phansri decided not to send him for an operation, because they believed that the procedure would threaten his life.Even after he’d grown to what they believed was a safe age, his mother Montha insisted on researching the recovery rate of other children who had undergone the same procedure.

Only then would they submit their son.The delay has caused Jackie to develop pulmonary hypertension, worsening his already fragile state and necessitating a prolonged post-op observation period at the children’s ICU.Ray, on the other hand, is likely to be discharged soon, and happiness is written on her parents’ genial faces. Before this, their daughter could only walk a few steps before collapsing from exhaustion.Such relief is still rare, though, among the parents of the 50,000 children born with heart disease each year in South-East Asia.

Nu Skin is already hoping to make the SEA CHF live up to its name by sending needy children from throughout the region to Bangkok for care. Nu Skin Malaysia is appealing for cases to be sent to them for consideration, by telephoning Lee Lim Bee Yoke of Nu Skin funds at 03-21707700. Those wishing to learn more about the PCSF can visit their website at

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