A message from Dressember:
Between our worldwide and Canadian campaign, Dressember has raised $2.5 million dollars. This brings our historic fundraising total to $10 million raised since 2013. As we celebrate this victory, we can’t help but feel gratitude for the work that you do. We are honored to be able to play a small part in it.
Dressember’s Impact for The Freedom Story
We are so thankful to be partnering with Dressember to help reach at-risk students with our Education program in 2020. Their support of a $10,000 grant to The Freedom Story allows us to continue to run our programs and reach more children with these important programs.
Why It Matters
Children in Northern Thailand are at-risk of trafficking because of three main factors: poverty, low levels of education and ‘social isolation,’ including a lack of social support, and risk factors related to health and background of students, for example if someone in their family has ever been a victim of trafficking. We have purposely targeted all of our programs at addressing these factors.
Our Education Program decreases the risk of all three of these areas by keeping children in school, providing mentorship and helping them develop life skills. Outside of financial scholarships provided through our Freedom Chapter sponsors, we at The Freedom Story support children to stay in school through activities and mentorship.
Some activities are focused on ensuring students and parents have the knowledge needed to make informed decisions. For example, we provide workshops on educational guidance, helping children identify their long-term goals and what paths they need to pursue to achieve those goals. For example, if a child wants to study to be an English Teacher, we help them understand what classes to take in high school to be best qualified for that major in university. Often we encourage graduated or older students to come back and share their experience with our younger students. This can provide information that many students would not otherwise have access to, as 25% of parents of our students have no education, with a further 48% having some primary school education, meaning they don’t have the experience needed to advise their children. Some activities are focused on helping students develop the soft skills needed to thrive.
Helping children develop life skills is essential to ensuring they are prepared for life after school, and for jobs that are empowering and safe. Camps and activities give children we work with the opportunity to develop leadership, organization, communications skills and the chance to work in a group. These skills help children be more prepared for the workforce and are better equipped to take care of themselves. In addition to these skills, we realize many students and families need mentorship support in order to stay in school.
Mentorship ensures children have someone they can turn to for support in times of need. This is a huge need amongst our students as most of them have a very limited support network. 34% said they have no or one person they can turn in times of need other than The Freedom Story staff. Repeatedly, students have shared how having a mentor has helped them make decisions, often when they don’t have someone else they could turn to for help.
This includes helping to educate families and change mindsets and attitudes on long-term gratification, and why it is important for children to stay in school, even if there is an initial cost. Encouraging students in school also includes celebrating success of students. For many of our students, completing a school year is a huge success, and we celebrate that yearly with our graduation party at the resource center. In addition, The Freedom Story staff attend every child’s graduation. From middle school through university, our staff are there to give gifts and encouragement, and ensure our students know we are proud of and support them.
All of these activities are aimed at decreasing risks of trafficking in our students and providing the support they need in order to learn and thrive. We are so thankful for the thousands of Dressember Advocates who have made it possible for us to continue to run these programs for at-risk kids this year.