We’re kicking off our End of Year Fundraising Campaign, to secure what we need to keep our programs running successfully in 2020! To kick it off, we’re sharing a series of stories about kids who have turned your support into an opportunity to not just muddle through, but to absolutely THRIVE! Their stories have touched and inspired us, and we’re sure you’ll feel the same! This story about Pim is about how choices have helped her thrive. To help ensure more kids are protected against exploitation and are given the chance to thrive, be sure to donate by December 31–every dollar you give toward our $50,000 goal will be matched for double the impact!
Pim* is a soft spoken young woman who joined The Freedom Story at the age of 12. As a member of our second ever group of scholarship students, she has been part of our programs for the past ten years. She grew up in the rural village near our Pong Phrae Center, and can remember when the Resource Center did not exist.
“When I was invited to go, my parents’ lives were difficult, and I knew the center could help me.” Pim’s parents were farmers, her father getting occasional side jobs as a truck driver. With only $300 a month for income, supporting Pim, her older brother, and their grandmother was a struggle. Though supportive of her education, her family did not have enough money to continue to send her to school. More than the finanical support, it became harder for them each year to relate to her in her studies, and provide the educational guidance she needed. Her father had only been able to finish fourth grade before having to drop out to work, and her mother only finished grade nine.
The Resource Center fulfilled many roles for her. In the early years, she remembers the Resource Center as a source of fun and joy. “After school, we’d all go to Resource Center together. We’d play, talk, walk around together, spend our free time there. We’d play sports, hunt for crabs together. It was really fun.”
As she grew older, the Resource Center provided more. When Pim was in grade 7, she and her mother joined our family camp. At the family camp, she learned new skills, including how to communicate with her mother, and not to close her out of her life. She believes family relationships are important because “when families are doing well, then the kids are happy and don’t worry or have issues. If families have issues, then the kids have issues as well. For example, when parents get divorced, the kids will be hurt. They can become disobedient if the relationships are not good. But if they can support us, we don’t have to be worried and concerned about them, we can focus on our studies the best we can.”
Pim speaks from personal experience about the effect family breakdown has on kids’ well being, and how it impacts their ability to focus and thrive. Pim’s parents went through a season where they were living separately. “I felt so stressed–I didn’t know what to do about anything. My mom didn’t have any work, and was trying to find work. They were living separately and my dad was working very hard. When I went to see him, his hands were all ripped from how hard he was working.” Stressed and not knowing where to turn, Pim sought out The Freedom Story’s counselor Khae, and attended counseling during that time. “I felt better, she was so encouraging and supportive. She helped me find a good way to think about the situation.”
Pim’s mother has also participated in our sustainable development program, learning about organic agriculture and how to raise silkworms at home. When her mom was raising the silkworms they had additional income for their family.
Education Brought Choices
Pim worked extremely hard throughout her education, and graduated this year with a degree in English from a university in Chiang Rai. She now works at a jewelry shop, while she studies to pass the exam to become a police officer. She has grown so much, not just in schooling and the ability to earn, but also in the ability to budget and make responsible choices. She says, “Without education, you cannot have good work. I have graduated from university now, and I have learned how much money I can make, how much I need. I can choose what I want to do.”
She also knows what kind of life she was able to escape. “If I didn’t finish, I would have to work hard, and wouldn’t have choices. I’ve seen it, how you have to work at night.”
When asked about the best part of being part of The Freedom Story, she points out the consistent support she has received. “Whenever we have issues, The Freedom Story supported us and helped us with everything. I am so thankful for how they have never forgotten us or gotten rid of us. Ever since the time I first came until I graduated, they cared and followed up with me.”
It has been over a decade since The Freedom Story began, and stories like Pim’s illustrate the starkly divergent paths for children at-risk, and how support can really make the difference between turning down a path that leads to trafficking, exploitation, trauma, and risk versus embarking on a path that leads to growth and success. Preventing trafficking is about more than survival; it helps children thrive!
We believe prevention is one of the keys to ending the trafficking of children. When we invest in their education and growth, we not only arm them with protection against those who would exploit them, we help them thrive. If you believe in prevention like we do, you can take part by helping ensure our prevention programs keep running in 2020. Please donate by December 31st to help us reach our $50,000 goal and your gift will be DOUBLED! Click HERE to Give Now!
*Name changed for privacy. Stories and quotes come from interviews translated into English, with light edits for clarity.