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Chiang Rai Awakening
July 3, 2024

Earlier this month, The Freedom Story collaborated with local district government agencies and fellow anti-trafficking organizations to host a special event called “Chiang Rai Awakening,” a fun, local gathering in the city dedicated to raising public awareness about the cyber threats that lead to human trafficking. It was held on a central promenade, with exhibition booths, games, films, prizes, and even a panel discussion.

An estimated 500+ people attended Chiang Rai Awakening, and the event was really positively received, so we’re very excited to share the details with you! Here are some of the highlights:

Chiang Rai Awakening

The event included exhibition booths from organizations within our network, and they provided valuable information on anti-trafficking and online threats through interactive games and enjoyable activities. Participating organizations included: the Mae Sai District Children and Youth Council, ECPAT Foundation, ADRA Thailand Foundation, Lift International Foundation, Kiang Rim Khong Group, Nan Province Community Potential Development Association, Guiding Light Group, and Saan Fan Pun Dao Group. 

Another major highlight was a panel discussion about combating the online deception that lures people into the traps of traffickers. The panel featured representatives from the government, media, NGOs, and a Member of the House of Representatives. This panel provided a unique opportunity for the public, especially children, to offer suggestions and share their opinions with the relevant organizations, facilitating the kind of dialogue that helps make sure anti-trafficking policy is responsive and relevant to the people who need it most.

Other highlights included a short film contest with over 15 films competing and featuring participants from all over Thailand. 

Students from Mae Sai Prasitsart School showcased a dance performance. 

And finally, there was a screening of “The Escape,” a film produced by The Freedom Story and its network organizations. This film was inspired by the real-life story of a trafficking victim from our local community who was deceived into working in Poipet, Cambodia, and who managed to escape. 

The event initiative came about due to the growth of human trafficking in Mae Sai and other areas near the borders of Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos. This region is an important trading zone, and a network of illicit operations have set up online gambling networks that engage in money laundering and various forms of fraud. They deceive Thai, Chinese, and other foreign individuals into working at call centers, in which they defraud victims at the level of approximately 20 million Thai baht per week. 

Chiang Rai Awakening served to raise awareness about this form of online trafficking among children, youth, students, and the general public in Chiang Rai province. By fostering collaboration between the government and the private sector, we hope to prevent human trafficking and promote awareness of online safety. 

There are other concrete achievements from this event too. For example, a committee has been formed to promote collaboration and address common issues among all the child protection agencies; support has been provided to enhance the capacity of law enforcement agencies and professional teams through training on the National Referral Mechanism (NRM); efforts are being made by the media to help raise awareness and present issues that the government needs to address in vulnerable areas; and ongoing issues are highlighted continuously through online media and mainstream media via video clips and short films.

The feedback from the audience was overwhelmingly positive. Many attendees expressed that they had previously been unaware of the various forms of trafficking, but this event helped them see how close this issue is to them and their families. The movie, in particular, made it easier for them to realize the severity of the problem.            

Several community members approached The Freedom Story staff during the event, seeking help and advice for individuals they knew who were at risk of becoming victims of human trafficking. Our staff provided assistance and guidance, ensuring they received the support they needed.

As one of our staff said:

“This event is a promising start for raising awareness among various working organizations, including government bodies, the private sector, press media, NGOs, and community members, about the growing threat of online scams leading to human trafficking. This issue is causing increasing damage every day, not just in Thailand but worldwide. By addressing the problem from its roots through events like this, we believe it can lead to larger and more effective prevention efforts in the future.” 

Your investment in prevention ensures powerful events like this can happen. Thank you for taking part in creating change from the ground up, helping vulnerable people work together with the agencies and organizations whose mission is to support and protect them, and building synergistic energy to profoundly reduce trafficking risk and promote strong communities, and resilience on all levels!



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