The SOLD Project

We believe that education is the key to preventing child exploitation. Our mission is to prevent child prostitution through culturally relevant programs for vulnerable children and to share their stories to empower creative, compassionate people to act. Beginning as a documentary, we are now a grassroots non-profit offering scholarship and resources to at-risk children in rural northern Thailand. Our work is two-fold: prevention through education in Thailand and raising global awareness.
Jan 13, 2015

What a wonderful 2015!

Playing games in the after school program
Playing games in the after school program

Dear Friends,

As 2014 comes to a close I’m feeling so grateful for another year of profoundly meaningful and impactful work with The SOLD Project. We continue to learn that prevention works! In a village where more than half of the young boys and girls used to drop out of grade school and were at high risk of sex trafficking, 84 of the 129 children in our scholarship program are now pursuing higher education—and 95% have stayed in school.
While our growth and success is encouraging, I continue to be most inspired by the stories of the children we work with. One of these stories is of fifteen year old Faa*, when she reminded me that prevention work is not a linear task: it requires walking alongside of our students as they face daily battles in their lives. Faa* has been receiving a scholarship from SOLD since 2008 and has been an active participant in our programs. Earlier this year her family forced her into a marriage with an older man - a marriage she did not want. With the support of The SOLD Project’s scholarship and counseling team, her family received the counseling and guidance needed to help Faa* stay on the path of education. 
Another story is of Fep*, one of our recent University graduates. When I first read Fep’s story – he grew up undocumented and the son of a drug dealer – I was moved to tears by his commitment to education as a means to help his people. Today, six years later, he has graduated with a law degree and received his citizenship. His dream is to practice law to bring justice to others in his similar situation. 
Meanwhile, the Resource Center has been an unbelievable success. The number of students regularly attending the after-school programs increased so much that we built a second building. This second building has a new classroom, a counseling center, a computer lab and larger office space for our growing Thai staff.We also welcomed four key Thai staff members including a counselor and after school program manager. 
Your contributions to The SOLD Project has affected the lives of an entire community and, with your help, the story of how prevention is breaking the cycle of poverty and freeing children from a future of exploitation continues to spread.
Thank you so much for continuing to support The FREEDOM Project's work to prevent child exploitation. 
Riding elephants
Riding elephants
Home visit in the community for one of our student
Home visit in the community for one of our student
Nov 18, 2014

We're in the home stretch!

The new office!
The new office!

We are so excited to be settling in to the new classroom and are already wondering how we ever handled operations and activities at the Resource Center before it! We have furnished the new office for our expanding staff with new desks that are created to withstand the humid temperatures of Thailand, a large meeting table made by a local villager and recycled from a tree, and storage space to organize student profiles, receipts, etc. The new classroom is also being put to use - fans were recently purchased to keep it cool and a large whiteboard is a much needed new addition. The few working computers have been moved over to the space designated for a computer lab, and fundraising for new computers will be our next endeavor! On the back of the building is a private entrance to a counseling room, where our Prevention Program Director meets with our students and their families on a regular basis. 

We are so close to completion: the only things left to purchase are air conditioning units and a few new printers. Each air conditioning unit will be high powered to be able to cool the large rooms and costs roughly $1,500 a piece. We'll be putting one in the office, counseling room, computer lab and classroom. This will be extremely helpful during hot season, when students and staff are unable to work because of the sweltering heat. The AC will allow for a respite from the heat, encouraging productivity, focus and attendance (since it's so hard to find a place to cool down!). 

Thank you so much to everyone who has given to support the building of this new space! We are so thrilled to not only have an office that actually fits all of our staff but also to have a designated space for classes, freeing up the (old) classroom to be used as a Library and creative arts center. 

We are so appreciative! 

The new classroom
The new classroom
Art in the classroom
Art in the classroom
Oct 9, 2014

Not Just Staying Alive... Choosing to Live

Planting Trees at the Resource Center
Planting Trees at the Resource Center

Our last report was submitted by a Global Giving staff member, Charissa Murphy, after she visited our FREEDOM Project Resource Center to see the impact that your gifts are making. She submitted a wonderful report that gives insight into our work and the daily activities that you, our donors, make possible. As always, so many things have happened since her report! 

Our staff recently shared a story that subtly highlights the importance of the FREEDOM Project and the activities, community, and resources that you help us offer. The story touched my heart and I wanted to share it here, with you, as well. 

Suki* used to stay home every single day. After school, she would curl up for a nap or to spend hours in front of the TV. Not by choice, but because her family insisted upon it for her health. All her life, they told her that playing with other children or otherwise exerting herself would cause her health to deteriorate. Being outside and having fun would hurt her, they said. Suki is HIV-positive.

But Suki did have a friend, Pleng*, who is one of our scholarship students. Pleng eventually convinced Suki to come to SOLD. There were openings for scholarships available, and Pleng convinced her friend to apply. Upon accepting Suki into the program, however, our SOLD staff had to work hard to convince Suki and her family that engaging in normal activity was not only healthy, but beneficial for Suki. Moreover, our staff stressed, Suki has value as a person and should share herself with others. It was hard for the young girl in particular to undo all she had previously been taught: that she could not enjoy life the way normal kids do.

In the end, her family allowed her to join in SOLD activities, and Suki was welcomed and encouraged by the staff and kids who immediately accepted her as one of their own. She now comes to visit SOLD almost daily and is developing strong relationships with both staff and fellow students, proving herself adept at getting along with others and getting involved in whatever activites the SOLD kids were doing each day. She is happier, making new friends, and enjoying new life experiences. 

We set out to combat trafficking, but what we do is broader in scope too. We aim to give new opportunities to kids, certain that given just half a chance, these kids will produce great results in their lives. If we give these kids the foundation from which to take chances, then they can feel proud about themselves when they take the risk and discover that they can succeed.

Thank you - all of you - for continuing to allow these relationships to flourish in such a safe space. Your gifts are truly changing lives. 

*Names changed to protect privacy.

Biking to the Resource Center after school
Biking to the Resource Center after school
Learning about art with a volunteer
Learning about art with a volunteer
Playing ping pong after school
Playing ping pong after school

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