SOLD has identified key factors that place a child at risk of exploitation - like poverty, lack of education, and the absence of positive role models - and has developed a holistic model to address those risk factors. We are now launching our second location to provide these programs to our High School and University students in Chiang Rai, a trafficking hub in Northern Thailand.
When SOLD began in 2008 to prevent child exploitation in Thailand, the facts were dismal. The village has a long history of being a source destination for human trafficking and sexual exploitation, and the education levels are shockingly low. Nearly 50% of students were dropping out of school before grade 9, leaving them uneducated and vulnerable to traffickers. As our students continue to higher education they are moving away from the village and to the city, and we need to move with them.
We want to grow with our students. Our radius has expanded from 2 KL in 2008 to 50KL in 2015. The majority of our students are now attending High School, Vocational, or University in Chiang Rai City. We want to grow with our students so that we can continue to offer the best prevention programs, the best mentorship, and the best resources for our students. Our goal is twofold: to continue providing mentorship and resources as well as to open a safe house for vulnerable children.
We began in 2008 by offering scholarships, since we knew there was a direct correlation between education and vulnerability. Little did we know that over the last seven years we would develop a holistic prevention program that worked. In under a decade SOLD has seen the drop out rate decrease to 7%. Plus 98% of our students finish grade 9 to continue on to higher education. The expansion will ensure that we can continue to provide support for higher education and prevent child exploitation.