Boribun* is a 14-year-old who loves to sing and play guitar. He is Hmong, an ethnic minority from a village with deep drug addiction and drug trafficking problems. His family is large, with no reliable income, which is another source of stress. The world around him is rife with instability. Music is his escape.
The Drug Problem
Drugs (most commonly, ya ba, a mix of caffeine and methamphetamine in tablet form) come into the village from a nearby province. They are also made in the village. Boribun has relatives that are involved in both taking drugs and in selling them. Though he is young, he hasn’t been shielded from these aspects of his family. Instead, it puts a lot of pressure on him.
Most of his friends have also dropped out of school due to drug and family issues, and many are involved in selling. They sell the drugs locally, as well as in nearby villages. The area is rural and has high addiction rates because the drugs help people work harder and longer in agriculture. The drugs are also extremely cheap. A pill can be bought for as little as 20 THB (59 cents).
Boribun’s Family Situation
In a large family, it can be easy for a young person to feel lost. “My family is a large family of 10 people. My parents are very old and cannot work, so we have no income. My brothers and I work together to find income for family expenses,” Boribun says. He is the third of 4 brothers, all of whom work daily jobs, mostly in agriculture. One of his brothers migrated to Israel to help support the family. There have been multiple reports of Thais being subject to gross labor exploitation there.
He has a brother he relies on for emotional support, one who understands him and has always taken care of him. But his brother cannot save him from the realities of the world outside: pressure to find money to survive, pressure to do what others are doing to survive. He tuned out a lot of it by spending hours on his phone. But with the rise of online exploitation, that’s no safe place for him either. As a local teacher put it, “kids who drop out of school have two options [in this village]: sell sex or sell drugs.”
With no reliable income and so many family members to support, Boribun is at great risk of dropping out.
How We’re Supporting Boribun
Boribun joined our scholarship program last year when we became aware of his family situation. In just one year, he already says his life has changed for the better. “From being a person who likes to play on my phone and hang out with friends, without paying attention to studying and taking responsibility for my duties, now, I have changed my opinions and attitudes after participating in activities that have helped me learn about work and responsibilities,” he explains.
We’ve also provided financial assistance to his family, coordinating with government support to provide several more pigs his family can raise for additional income.
Beyond financial assistance, Boribun says his The Freedom Story mentor has helped him a great deal with problem-solving and goal setting with his education. Boribun has participated in training sessions, where he learned about “the use of online media, human trafficking, how to protect yourself, and the rights necessary for life,” as he puts it.
This support helps restore Boribun to a better path, one that offers a more promising future. He is improving his English, as he sees it as the international language of the world. He also dreams of becoming a police officer, “to help and take care of those who are in trouble.” With your help, we can continue to restore Boribun to a more rightful path, where he can stay in school and pursue his dreams.
This year, we’re helping vulnerable kids like Boribun restore themselves to a better path, repair what has been broken, reassert themselves, and rejuvenate all our spirits in the process as they continue to demonstrate incredible resilience. Your generous gift is key to making all that possible. Can you help us continue to protect them through 2021? Please give to our End of Year Campaign, and help us raise $110,000 by midnight PST, Dec. 31, 2021!
*Name changed for privacy and stock photo used.