In the final story we’d like to share this year, we’re honored to introduce you to Dream, who provides an example of the stunning difference trafficking prevention makes. Her life could have been one of incredible struggle, but support at the right time was all this intelligent, hard-working and determined young woman needed to thrive. And she is also an example of the students themselves seeing the power of prevention work, and feeling inspired by it, not only for their own lives, but for the lives of others as well. In this way, prevention becomes sustainable and self-perpetuating. The investments we make in these children now could reap rewards for generations – so that not only do they avoid the lure of traffickers, but also others in their whole community.
Dream has been with The Freedom Story from the very beginning, before we had even built our Resource Center. She was just 9 years old when she first came to The Freedom Story.
Growing up, her parents worked as farmers, and they had a great deal of debt from their farming business. Dream’s life changed when she was amongst our second ever group of students to receive a scholarship. It was not just the financial support that benefitted Dream. “I learned so much in school and outside, got a lot of advice and counseling, and encouragement and inspiration from The Freedom Story,” she says smiling.
When the Resource Center opened, Dream attended math and Thai class and did her homework there after school. She especially enjoyed sports day and teaching the 3-3-5 curriculum as a youth leader. 3-3-5 teaches children how to report, identify and prevent child abuse.
Dream’s experience at The Freedom Story truly changed the trajectory of her life when she realized she wanted to be a social worker. “I did a program about sustainable livelihoods with one of The Freedom Story staff. We went out to see other people, and I saw the work of The Freedom Story for kids who lacked opportunities or who were at-risk, and it made me think, ‘I could work in this way. When I graduate, I could go work somewhere else first, then come back here,’” she says.
Her family was hesitant for her to study social work at first, wanting her to pursue a teaching degree instead. Teachers are well-revered in Thailand. But input and advice from The Freedom Story staff showed Dream that the university she could attend for social work was also prestigious. One Freedom Story staff member helped Dream apply and introduced her to a friend who had studied at the university, who gave advice and suggestions Dream says she found useful.
Dream’s growth continued at university, where she expanded her world view. “When I first went to study social work, I realized I had different ideas about ethnic minority people for example, but I’ve changed my mind a lot. I see people differently and not just one way. People who are poor or do bad things have many reasons why they do that. I have grown up a lot, and got a lot of experience,” she admits.
She sees the value of education very clearly. “Education is important because for myself, or others, for kids with limited opportunities, or who can’t go to study, it is very important in how you use your life,” she says. “Especially foreign languages. The world is changing very quickly, and those things will impact us.”
Dream is using her education to help others, and she knows why knowing one’s rights is so important. “If we have knowledge [about our rights] we can use that knowledge to defend ourselves. And we can use that knowledge of rights and freedom to tell others who are missing those opportunities about the rights they deserve and how they can access them.”
Through her hard work and determination, Dream has graduated from university. She is now working in Bangkok, helping a social worker there at a hospital while she studies for her social work license. “Now I am studying all the time, I don’t want the time to be wasted,” she says smiling. Her dedication to helping others is helping encourage her to pursue her dream.
Help more vulnerable children thrive the way Dream has! Donate to our End of Year Fundraising campaign to help keep our programs running in 2020. We have until TOMORROW, Dec. 31, to hit our goal of $50,000 and have funds matched for DOUBLE the impact! Don’t wait; donate today!