Join us on the 10-year anniversary of The Freedom Story as we celebrate a decade of child trafficking prevention. Help us achieve child trafficking prevention by teaching human rights, raising awareness and understanding, and facilitating healing in the Chiang Rai region of Thailand. One Day’s Wages will match your gift to this campaign up to $25,000, for a total of $50,000.
In Thailand, there are over 400,000 people who are stateless: they have no citizenship anywhere, and many more face ethnic discrimination that keeps them out of well-paying, legal work. Their lack of citizenship makes stateless Thai children more vulnerable to trafficking and exploitation. Estimates suggest that as many as 60,000 children are exploited in the Thai commercial sex trade each year. Many of these children come from the rural regions of the North where poverty, gender discrimination, and familial obligations encourage many to enter the sex trade. Others are tricked or forced into the industry.
ODW + The Freedom Story
Over the past ten years, The Freedom Story has developed an innovative model of prevention in the northern region of Chiang Rai, Thailand. Near the Golden Triangle, made up of numerous rural communities, Chiang Rai has functioned as a supply site for the Thai commercial sex industry. Since its inception in 2008, The Freedom Story has provided educational scholarships to 200 at-risk children and youth. Its broad program of prevention has directly impacted over 2,400 community members.
Critical to The Freedom Story’s prevention model are their human rights, counseling, and youth leadership programs. The human rights programs teach students and community members about the Thai law and their legal and human rights. Through the 3-3-5 program (a program that teaches students about their legal and sexual rights), counseling programs, and youth leadership clubs and activities, the students develop social and sexual awareness, tools for self-empowerment, and the healing of individuals and communities.
Boonsri is the seventh of eight siblings. Her widowed mother works on a coffee farm, while Boonsri and her sister live in Chiang Mai. She loves to draw and dreams of becoming a police officer because there is a lot of drug trafficking in her village and she wants to help others and fight drug crime. (Plus, she likes how smart officers look in their uniforms.)
Despite having Thai citizenship and a Thai national ID card, officers can tell by her identification number that she is not a natural born Thai citizen. Without natural born citizenship, she cannot be an officer of the law. Further, she is Akha, an ethnic minority group that faces significant discrimination in a variety of legal and social ways.
Boonsri serves as an example to the other students and community members who seek citizenship rights. Through The Freedom Story’s human rights programs, we work with them to think strategically and long term about the best ways to achieve citizenship—because sometimes the easiest ways are not the best, and sometimes it’s better to work towards a more stringent application in order to gain the most rights and greatest freedom.
The Freedom Story also counsels and mentors students like Boonsri to help her identify and pursue all available pathways to achieve her dream. It is tempting to give up entirely when one is told they cannot have their dream. Ensuring students like Boonsri are able to pursue the highest paths available to them, despite setbacks and discrimination, is vital to poverty reduction and preventing the trafficking of children at risk.
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