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.
The following is a postcard from Charissa Murphy, GlobalGiving's In-the-Field Representative in Southeast Asia, about her recent visit to The SOLD Project in Thailand.
Two of the boys' mother died a few weeks ago. The stepfather completely vanished from the picture afterward, which is apparently not uncommon here. The alcoholic father reappeared. He claimed to be equipped to take care of the children, but The Sold Project expressed many concerns that they will address immediately. They haven't been coming regularly, and when they do they haven't been fed or bathed. They just lost their mother. They need (and deserve) support and love; not neglect.
Though this just happened a few weeks ago, it is typical of many of the children in this area in northern Thailand. The parents are addicts or alcoholics, creating harsh environments for their children. The safety the children feel with The Sold Project team is evident. It's a place where they can both laugh together and cry together. Their ability to be vulnerable and learn here helps empower them to focus on optimistic futures where their dreams can become their realities.
One of the girls who came after school (for The Freedom Project) during my visit was having eye irritations. She had an eye surgery relatively recently. The staff was immediately making making calls to ensure she received care that week. I could see the ease on her face despite how much she didn't want to show the pain she felt or the difficulty she felt in sharing it with her family. Here though, she felt more comfortable sharing. Counseling is a huge need in the community here, and The SOLD Project is dedicated to establishing an open, trusting environment so the children feel safe to express their feelings. The team shared, “Here we laugh a lot together, and we also cry a lot together.”
The after school program serves many purposes, including more formal education on health, goal-setting, and self-esteem building, as well as creative art and sport releases. In addition, as previously mentioned, it is a time when the children build relationships with one another and the staff, helping them to gain a support system to grow above the pressures and pains they face at home. With your support, they’re continuing to deepen existing relationships, as well as reaching more and more of the children (and adults) in the surrounding area. I look forward to hearing about the new building completion and greater opportunities it brings for space to increase the number of students and programs they support!
Upcoming Event on GlobalGiving - TODAY, this Wednesday, July 16th, is a Bonus matching day!:
Today, July 16th (Wednesday), beginning at 9AM EDT, GlobalGiving will match 50% of any donations (of up to $1,000 from any individual donor) to The SOLD Project. There are $130,000 in total funds available for matching that day for all of GlobalGiving’s partners. To ensure your donation is matched before the funds run out, please consider donating early today shortly after 9AM.
I want to thank The SOLD project for allowing me to visit!
Since our last report three months ago we have made so much progress! The second classroom is nearing completion with last minute touches being made to the building. We will then be in our final step: furnishing it!
We are thankful for the strong infrastructure of this building. Earlier this week, Chiang Rai experienced a 6.2 earthquake. Thanks to your donations we were able to build an earthquake safe foundation and the Resource Center (this second classroom included) saw very minimal damage. Only a couple of shingles broke.
With our upcoming parent meeting this Saturday, we look forward to sharing with the entire SOLD community the progress that's been made on it! The upstairs has been designed as an office space for our eight staff (insulated and air conditioned for the extreme heat that Northen Thailand experiences) as well as a conference and private meeting room for counseling services and private meetings with students/parents. The downstairs is designed as a classroom for our students to participate in after school programs and educational classes. The original (first) classroom will then be converted in to a library.
Students are heading back to school for a new term and the Resource Center has calmed down a bit from hosting our summer programs. We had 34 students go on to higher education and 3 graduate from University (with a 4th graduating next month!). All of the programs we offer here at The FREEDOM Resource Center are in thanks to your generosity: you make it possible!
Thank you so much for all of your support!
Your contributions continue to provide resources, mentorship and trafficking prevention awareness to our SOLD scholarship students and the entire community. In the last few months we've had Christmas parties, hosted volunteers, had our doors open daily for our after school program, and have made so much progress on our second classroom! Thank you for making all of this possible.
We've been saying all along how needed this second classroom is. So much so that we're already using the first level of this building! We recently hosted an art camp with 20 volunteers and 75 students in the shade of the first level of this new classroom (see progress photo attached). Our staff are also very excited to each have a desk (currently eight staff are sharing two desks and a couch) in their new second level office!
During the after school program we encourage the students to be creative. They took the attached pictures that they wanted to share with you. Enjoy!
Thank you so much for each contributing to our Freedom Project programs and helping to make it a reality. We are very grateful!
Rachel Goble & The SOLD Project Team
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A. Muang Chiang Rai,