Besides, Wang is also facing mistrust from African people and competition from some Western NGOs.
“Western NGOs have been active in Africa for decades, while we are newcomers. Some of them think we are there to undercut their work,” said Wang.
Once, local authorities told Wang that a Western NGO had accused them of smuggling elephants to China in the name of protecting wildlife. That NGO even provided authorities a photo of Wang’s plane. “The ironic thing is that the plane in their photo is too small for an elephant,” he said.
Wang’s team also has to overcome the mistrust of locals. Some of them told Wang directly that they thought his NGO won’t stay there for a long time and was there just for “image promotion.” Compared with Western NGOs, local people’s recognition of Chinese NGOs is generally low, according to Wang.
This, he said, is due to a lack of understanding. The West had colonized Africa long ago and the locals are immersed in Western culture. “While many don’t like the West, they still consider the West to be superior. In comparison, they have limited knowledge of China. So they hold a prudent attitude towards us,” he said.
Wei Jiangang, founder of the Beijing Gender Health Education Institute, a Chinese NGO dedicated to improving public awareness about LGBT people, is promoting its “Queer University” project in an African country. Queer University aims to empower LGBT groups by teaching them how to produce documentaries to make their voices heard. Besides basic trainings, the project also offers attendees a year’s funding and instruction to complete their visual works.