Transparent Labor at mytinyukraine.org

What problem are you solving?:

One of the most striking effects of globalization has been the creation of an enormous population that migrates, legally and illegally, in search of labor opportunities.“What is it like to work in Dubai? Will I be paid? Can I get my passport back from the boss?” These are the questions lingering in the mind of a Ukrainian laborer, one of many, who is about to embark on a job-seeking journey. Yet it is very hard to find authentic answers to such important life-changing questions due to the lack of information about realities of working in a foreign country.

Even NGOs that actively engage with trafficked persons can only get small bits of knowledge about what actually happens after workers take on jobs abroad. Because workers don’t openly come forth due to anonymity issues, the valuable lessons – such as typical problems and dangers involved – become secrets and don’t get passed on to the newly recruited, thus creating an endless cycle of human rights abuse and slavery. 

Describe your idea:

Migration is at its heart, an act of bravery. Yet we haven’t utilized emerging technologies to fully support it. I propose to move away from passive media campaigns to active engagement and transparency through the use of open source tools that can help inform those seeking to migrate. 

Imagine if workers who came back from labor abroad could anonymously send SMS messages about their experiences to a Web 2.0 site like mytinyukraine.org. Then people thinking about taking on a job overseas could browse those messages and learn about the realities of working in a foreign country, only then making an informed decision about whether or not to take the risks.

The following implementation plan is suggested:

1. Set up a FrontlineSMS server to receive SMS messages (http://www.frontlinesms.com/)
2. Store received and formatted data in a MySQL database
3. Utilize Ruby-on-Rails to display messages from the database through an interactive website with a browse/submit interface

What country will this operate in?: Ukraine

Who are you?:

I am a Fulbright fellow with a B.S. in Computer Science and an M.A. in Education working with a number of NGOs, including the International Organization for Migration, on migration research and counter-trafficking initiatives in Ukraine. Currently based in Kyiv. In the past I have worked as a systems architect/developer in the non-profit sector and have experience with community engagement. I strongly believe that creative thinking and an appreciation for humankind combined with new media and technologies can become powerful agents of change in the world and make a difference in the lives of actual people!