More Than a Story of Human Trafficking

More than a story of human trafficking

by | Jan 19, 2017

“You can identify the girls who are on sale for sex if they are wearing a number,” our team was briefed before walking down a red light district in Bangkok, Thailand.

Children who are mired in poverty, those without opportunities for a better future, may suffer the fate of becoming a number in the brothels of Bangkok.

In 2016, The One Day’s Wages community funded a resource center in Chiang Rai, northern Thailand, as a strategic prevention program educating children who are at risk of being trafficked. Eugene Cho, founder of ODW, and I, as board member, traveled to Thailand to visit the resource center.

Our partner organization, previously called “The Sold Project”, has recently changed their name to The Freedom Story. The small plaque with their new name hung modestly on a simple 5 story building draped with purple mesh fabric, and with a small bit of fanfare, we watched reverently while they unveiled this new beginning: The Freedom Story.

Part of the reason the organization decided to change their name was to reflect their commitment to ethical storytelling. It is often a temptation in the field of NGO work to gravitate towards sensational stories in order to move the hearts of donors, but in that process we further exploit the people we are there to serve. The Freedom Story isn’t a story of saviors from across the seas swooping in to rescue the victims, but a commitment to finding the right solutions alongside locals–walking towards freedom together.

This was what I learned in our encounters with the Thai people from brothels of the red light district of Bangkok to the villagers in northern Thailand—men, women, young, and old. The girls in their scantily clad clothing wooing customers were not just victims but resilient women, some enduring abuse repeatedly in order to feed their family. The children up in the resource center of Chiang Rai were not vulnerable as in weak, but a diverse palate of personalities embodying dreams of bright futures. They were people, just like you and me, fighting daily for dignity and life—figuring out what it means to be whole, to be free.

The Freedom Story was founded because of a documentary highlighting a girl named Cat when she was only in 4th grade. Cat had lost her father, and her mother struggled to support their family. The Freedom Story provided Cat with a scholarship so she could complete her education, thereby minimizing her risk of being sold into prostitution. However, when Cat turned 18, she asked for the film about her to be taken offline.

“Can you tell me why you chose not to have it be put online?”

Cat’s reply:

“The film is about my family, my life, and my Mom. I don’t want them to be sad with me in that film. I am grown up. I am not like that. And I don’t want them to remember me in that way all the time. Because the world has changed. And I am changed too.”

Change is the freedom story.
Dignity for a child grown up is the freedom story.
Life beyond destitute poverty is the freedom story.

The stories that we tell must evolve continually to reflect dignity back to the people we serve. The stories that we tell should involve those who are living the story. The way we do justice matters as much as the work being done.

One Day’s Wages is honored to help tell The Freedom Story in the resource center of Chiang Rai. We are hopeful that the children who are mentored, equipped, and loved at the resource center will experience change that transforms them from the inside out so that, like Cat, they can make choices with their own voice, and engage the world with their whole selves.


Cindy Brandt is a member of the One Day’s Wages Board of Directors. She lives in Kaohsiung, Taiwan with her husband and two children.

Photos by Benjamin Edwards

Interested in supporting other anti-human trafficking initiatives? Take action here: Fight Human Trafficking

Share this story: [shareaholic app=”share_buttons” id=”26108403″]

More stories of impact

How COVID-19 Impacts Other Diseases

How COVID-19 Impacts Other Diseases

The COVID-19 pandemic has strained many parts of people’s lives. One impact we’re highlighting this month is the number of people infected by preventable diseases. Infections such as measles, pneumonia, polio, and the flu can be fatal, but are easily preventable...

read more
5 Free Ways To Support Nonprofits

5 Free Ways To Support Nonprofits

Nonprofits not only run off of donations, we work better when everyone can contribute to the cause. Here are five ways that you can give without having to spend a dime.   1. SPREAD THE WORD The simplest way to support us is to amplify our cause! This could be...

read more
Grassroots Change for Climate Action

Grassroots Change for Climate Action

Why Grassroots Change Matters Climate change can be a daunting problem to think about. After all, it is a global issue. The good news, however, is that there are numerous people who have been at the forefront of change in their communities for a long time. One such...

read more
COVID-19, Climate Change and The Vulnerable

COVID-19, Climate Change and The Vulnerable

With COVID-19 spreading rapidly across the world, areas with high poverty rates, such as Sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa, and Southeast Asia, are extremely vulnerable because many living in these regions have already been negatively impacted by effects from climate...

read more


One Day's Wages is a grassroots movement of people, stories, and actions to alleviate extreme global poverty

©2021 One Day's Wages is a registered 501(c)(3) organization | Privacy policy | Terms of use

P.O. BOX 17575 Seattle, WA 98127 | Contact us