After Lithuania donated COVID-19 vaccines to Taiwan in June, many people in the country rushed out to buy Lithuanian beer, chocolates and other products in gratitude.
Taiwanese social media influencer Jill Chang directed her followers to a list of Lithuanian charities, triggering a flood of donations. But she says she didn’t know that one of the charities had a controversial agenda: campaigning against abortion.
Within weeks, Chang had helped to raise about €140,000 for the Krizinio Nėštumo Centras (KNC – literally ‘crisis pregnancy centre’) in Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital. She then received information and an online backlash that surprised her.
KNC’s website says that it seeks “to prevent abortion in Lithuania” – which has been legal in the country for generations, since 1955.
The centre’s director Zita Tomilinienė has said: “if a woman is expecting an unwanted child from an unloved man, the best she can do is to carry the baby and give birth.”
Chang shared the group’s GlobalGiving page, where it asks givers to “Save a new life by supporting pregnant women.”
“When I did my due diligence, I […] mainly looked at their financial reports, board meeting notes and the decision-making process,” Chang told openDemocracy.