Human Trafficking-Focused Thailand Program Stirs Compassion and Commitment in Students

student and children in Thailand

When we were approached by the Pacific Ridge School, a private school in southern California, to student and children in Thailanddesign a study program that would give their students a grasp on the complex issues around trafficking, we went back to our roots in Northern Thailand. The result was a powerful travel program for high school students which we ran in May 2017, aimed at gaining an understanding of sexual slavery in the context of issues confronting the hill tribes of the Golden Triangle.

Students met with NGOs in Chiang Rai such as Destiny Rescue working to combat the scourge of sex trafficking. At our meeting with Ethan Wheeler of Destiny Rescue, the students were stunned to silence by Ethan’s riveting story of how he became involved in the fight against human trafficking and what Destiny Rescue had accomplished. He did not candy-coat his story, and the students listened in astonishment, many in tears. Afterwards, Ethan accepted questions, and the students framed them as sensitively as they could, shocked that kids their age suffered so terribly. The impact was palpable.

Following the meetings, the student group traveled to the Lahu village of Jabusii for a 3-day homestay. During one talk with a host mother, a student inquired as to the whereabouts of her oldest daughter. The host mother replied that her daughter was in Bangkok waiting tables. The students all looked at each other realizing that she was likely working in a brothel and were deeply saddened, exchanging knowing looks. Everything they had just learned about from the organizations they met with in Chiang Rai was right here in front of their eyes. The same kind of new awareness occurred at the end of the program when the students were in Bangkok’s backpacker district, Khao San Road. They saw Thai girls with their arms wrapped around drunk travelers with a completely new perspective.

We’re looking forward to returning to Thailand with another group of Pacific Ridge students next spring, and the popular program will expand to include a service project renovating the water system in Jabusii village. These kinds of awareness programs combat the crimes committed against the vulnerable of our world by creating compassion and developing an understanding for the next generation to lead the fight against human trafficking.

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  1. Pingback: Celebrating our 20th Anniversary with a Water Project in Thailand - Crooked Trails

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