Nov 2, 2020

Art as Awareness

Student leaders showing off their hard work
Student leaders showing off their hard work

Dear Friends

This quarter, COVID-19 restrictions were eased in Thailand, and we were able to begin to conduct trainings and outreach with our community. We know that COVID-19 is putting those who are vulnerable even more at risk, and we are ensuring these communities have the support they need.

Together, we reached an incredible 1,047 at-risk people this quarter with information sessions on their various rights. Topics ranged from the right to sexual integrity to labor rights for migrant workers. We trained a group of women’s village-level leaders on women's rights, family law, and labor law. 

A group of our students won an award this quarter in an art competition held by ECPAT on the topic of “voice of children against sexual exploitation of children”. Oom, one of the artists and our scholarship student, explained that she used the knowledge she’s gained through trainings and workshops on human rights and anti-trafficking with The Freedom Story and combined it with the fine art skills from her vocational degree in art to do her best in the competition. She is incredibly proud of herself for winning the award.

Because of you, we are seeing otherwise marginalized groups rise up and advocate for their rights and the rights of others. This includes migrant workers who are very vulnerable to exploitation, students in our scholarship program, and women leaders. All of these groups would struggle to access information on their rights on their own. 

Together we are seeing how knowledge and skills leads to empowerment, and empowered people are advocating for and claiming their rights. They are lodging complaints with the government, they are using creative means to raise awareness, and are teaching others with their new knowledge. 

Thank you so much for your ongoing commitment to the prevention of child trafficking. We are so thankful to be doing this work together.

In Hope,

The Freedom Story

Staff and students enjoy learning together
Staff and students enjoy learning together
Artwork in progress
Artwork in progress
Jul 11, 2020

How We are Fighting Impacts of COVID-19 Together

Distributing masks throughout Northern Thailand
Distributing masks throughout Northern Thailand

Dear Friend,

“The biggest impact of COVID-19 has been on my work. Because of COVID, my work at the pizza shop isn't consistent and it has meant my income is lower. This means I can’t pay my bills like my rent, and that I have to find work in other places. Usually I work 5-6 days per week 8-10 hours per day, whereas now I am working 2 days or sometimes 3 days per week, 3-4 hours per day,” Jaeng explained. She is working while studying to finish her degree because sheis responsible for supporting both herself and her parents who are old and live in a remote village in Northern Thailand. The loss of income during COVID-19 lockdowns meant she was struggling financially, and so were her parents. 

Because of you, we were able to provide emergency funding to Jaeng and students like her to provide the funds for her housing, food, and other necessities. This support ensures that despite the current hardships and challenges from COVID they can continue their education.

We have also given out over 3,000 masks and hygiene kits for at-risk communities, and have distributed dry goods to vulnerable communities that have lost work or income due to the virus. We are continuing to monitor the situation as Thailand gradually re-opens and our students have returned to school.

Trafficking thrives in situations where people are in desperate need and have few choices. COVID-19 threatens to increase risk of trafficking by pushing families deeper into poverty, decreasing opportunities for work, while also increasing the time students spend online, thereby leaving them more susceptible to online exploitation. During these difficult times, our commitment to the prevention of child trafficking remains. Together we will work to ensure children in Northern Thailand will stay in school, know their rights, and that their families will be able to rise above poverty. 

We are so thankful for your support in changing the lives of students like Jaeng.

In Hope,

Lucy

Jaeng is  hard worker, winning awards at work.
Jaeng is hard worker, winning awards at work.
Mar 13, 2020

Sex Education and Prevention

Students shared their thoughts
Students shared their thoughts

Dear Friends,

With the help of your support, last month our staff was able to reach out to a local youth dorm  to have a difficult conversation about sex and relationships. Helping youth think and talk about sex teaches them about the potential risks associated to unsafe sex. Teenage pregnancies in Thailand almost always lead to a girl dropping out of school either to care for the child or because of social stigma. With little education but needing to provide, they are at a higher risk of being trafficked. These activities also encourage youth to think critically about the belief that sex work is easy money. By considering the dangers of unsafe sex, they will reconsider working in sex work if they are pressured or tempted to do so.

This dorm is home to many ethnic minority youth, who are generally more at-risk of being trafficked because they face discrimination. These boys and girls must study in the city but their families live in the mountains. 

Our youth leaders were given the opportunity to run the workshop, practicing leadership and organization skills. They broke into groups and gave the youth discussion topics, using Thai proverbs about sex and relationships to ask how the youth felt or thought about sex and relationships in the present day. They talked about the impact sex has on a person’s emotions as well as on a relationship.

They then shared about how to practice safe sex, as well as encouraging the youth to think about how to use their knowledge in practice. “Most of them know about safe sex, but they find it hard to practice. They know they should use condoms but they aren’t brave enough to demand them to be used. Activities like this make it easier for the students to talk about sex, and hopefully use this knowledge and skills to practice safe sex,” explains Bee, Assistant Program Manager.

Working with youth to implement the workshop makes it much easier for students to open up. Peer to peer training allows students to feel more comfortable while also opening the door for staff to speak about this important topic.

Together we are breaking down taboos and talking about hard topics like safe sex and human trafficking with at-risk groups. Thank you for your support of our work. Together, we are preventing child trafficking in Northern Thailand.

 

With Hope,

The Freedom Story.

 
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