Sylvia Yu Friedman

Author, Speaker, TV Journalist, Filmmaker and Philanthropy Advisor

About Sylvia



 Sylvia Yu Friedman is an Asia-based award-winning human rights journalist, author, speaker, TV host, filmmaker and philanthropy advisor. As a philanthropy advisor, she has managed and directed funds to non-profit organisations in Asia to fight human trafficking since 2005.

Sylvia has a proven track record in strategic planning in charitable giving and bridging donors with effective grassroots organizations to achieve measurable social change and transformation of people groups and regions. Sylvia has managed and directed funding to humanitarian projects since 2005 that have impacted at the very least more than one million people.

While working as a China fund & program manager for a philanthropy consultancy in Beijing, Sylvia freelanced as a broadcast & print journalist and documentary filmmaker. From her base in Hong Kong, she continues to advise philanthropists and foundations on investing in social change and transformation of regions and entire sectors in China, North Korea and S.E. Asia.









Sylvia’s work in pioneering and managing the funding of humanitarian programs in China, North Korea, S.E. Asia and parts of Africa and Eastern Europe has given her a keen insight into anti-trafficking work, poverty alleviation among migrants and orphans, HIV/AIDS awareness & care for the affected, and North Korea aid.

Currently, her philanthropy advising work focuses on caring for orphans, children- and women-at-risk and to help bring an end to global sex trafficking and human slavery.

Sylvia is a supporter of The Mekong Club, a leading catalyst for change, inspiring and guiding the private sector to lead in the fight against modern slavery.  Led by Matt Friedman, a prominent international human trafficking expert. See Matt’s TED talk here. (You can book Matt as a speaker for your conference).

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Besides writing and producing media to raise awareness, one of my passions is to bring through my consulting work various stakeholders together — such as NGOs, government, academics, volunteers, business and philanthropists — to work towards a strategic plan or social change level goals for transformation of a region or country.

I’ve fallen madly in love with southwest China which borders Myanmar.

Some of my previous consulting projects that impact SW China and other parts of the country include:

*health and care project for elderly sex slave survivors (known as ‘comfort women’) in China

*freeing sex slaves (trafficked women, prostitutes) – jewelry making business is expanding to other regions

*helping drug addicts with HIV – hope to see one great model in Kunming replicated in other parts of the country

*empowering orphans and blind people so they can live with hope and dignity (I’ve helped direct funds to these projects)

Hanging out in a village in Mynamar.
Hanging out in a village in Myanmar.

You see things and ask “Why?” But I dream things that never were, and I say, “Why not?”
-George Bernard Shaw

In my spare time while living in Beijing, I helped support an organisation that mobilised young people from the West to impact humanitarian work and the business sector in China. In the near future, this mobilisation will begin to expand to other nations in the developing world.

I support Daybreak Asia ( and ISEC, and feel privileged to have been a tiny part of supporting young people to expand their horizons and to make an impact in China. For more than 10 years, ISEC has been mobilising young adults from the top universities in North America & UK including the Ivy Leagues and Oxbridge (Harvard, Yale, Oxford, Cambridge etc) to China to make a difference among children and the poor.

Some of my earthly heroes and role models: Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Gandhi and my parents, especially my beautiful mother who models love and authentic faith every day. She has for more than 30 years given home-made meals, financial support and a listening ear to the sick, the poor and those in distress. My mom and dad have helped many new immigrants in their community.

Site Visit Story (my trip on behalf of a philanthropist):

Meeting and interviewing 19-year-old

In Myanmar by the China border: Interviewing 19-year-old “Ma” (center) who is HIV positive and sleeps on a tattered mattress in the forest every night. Bangyuan (left) works for an NGO that helps Ma and provides social services for hundreds of drug addicts, commercial sex workers and other high risk groups in the “Golden Triangle” region. Ma left a lasting impression on me and I think of him often and wonder how he is doing. About a year ago, Bangyuan told me that Ma had died in the sugarcane fields. I was shocked. I checked again with the NGO staff and they clarified that another young man had died, and not Ma. I was very relieved.

(Ma passed away shortly after)


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