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Student Story: Cat
December 24, 2023

In celebration of our 15th anniversary, we’re sharing stories about students who have graduated from our child trafficking prevention programs. These students were identified as being at risk of trafficking and exploitation and, with the help of scholarships and mentorship, were able to turn their path from one of risk to one of resilience. For our final story of the season, we return to our very first story: Cat. This is what successful prevention looks like.

Cat was our very first scholarship student. Her story inspired our founder, Rachel Sparks, to create a fund to support her education, and that idea sparked the beginning of our organization and the beginning of a movement that demands we not wait until children are already trafficked before we act. We wanted to spread the idea of protecting children before they become trafficked or exploited. 

Cat grew up in an area where many of the young women around her were being pushed into the sex trade in order to survive. However, Cat was motivated to do something different with her life, and the scholarship enabled her to dream of other possibilities and make choices that weren’t available to so many others around her. 

She used the opportunities that The Freedom Story provided to empower herself – and she also inspired others around her to distance themselves from risky situations.

Through the activities available at The Freedom Story, Cat met many volunteers, donors, and other supporters. She was able to observe people from many different walks of life, and this experience exposed her to different nationalities, different languages, and other world views. She developed a love for learning foreign languages.

For many people around her, graduating high school would have already been a major achievement. Cat didn’t stop there, she wanted more for herself – more than many people ever dream of. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in teaching with a major in English from Ratchapat University in Chiang Rai. She is continuing on to pursue a Master’s Degree in an Art program in English for professional development from Mae Fah Luang University. After graduating from our prevention programs, she even came back to help volunteer and work with her younger peers, teaching English. At the age of 25, she’s now happily married to a husband who supports her pursuit of her Master’s, and she is thriving. When she finishes her Master’s Degree, she wants to do more social work. 

As our first scholarship student, Cat has been with The Freedom Story since the very beginning and has had a front-row seat to the work the organization has done. She shares her observation that The Freedom Story has worked to empower children. She believes that The Freedom Story’s influence is not just about the scholarship; it’s also the encouragement, love, and care. This support is really like building a person from the inside out. She hopes her story can inspire the younger generations around her.

Recalling what it was like to first receive a scholarship, Cat said, “I can still remember that day like it was yesterday. It was the day I could start to think about my future, and I was very happy. The Freedom Story has completely changed my life. This place is my family, my best friend, my counsellor, and a reason to try something new. Together, The Freedom Story and I have grown so much, from a small project with only a few students to a foundation with over a hundred students. I’m so glad to see how far this place has come. Without it, I wouldn’t be who I am today.”  

Cat says that her experiences have taught her that we all have a choice, and it is on us to choose between right and wrong. She believes that we should give the same opportunities to others as she has received, and she wants to share love with everyone because she understands what it’s like to not have that.

“I want to thank The Freedom Story for all the help and effort they have put into supporting all the kids. You can see that your work is not in vain. I want to tell everyone else who is getting a scholarship that you all have a great chance. It is like being given a seed. It’s up to you to make it grow into a beautiful tree. I want you to keep trying and dreaming, because one day your dreams will come true.”

We are certain that Cat will always be an inspiration to others, wherever she goes. In Cat’s words, “We cannot choose where we came from, but we can choose where we will be.”

We thank everyone who has supported Cat and made this path possible.

 

Thank you so much to all our caring supporters who helped enable this change from risk to resilience. This giving season, we’re asking you to continue supporting other children who are coming up in experiences like Cat once did to ensure they stay protected from exploitation and on a path that maximizes their potential. Please consider a gift to help us reach our goal of $100,000 by December 31, 2023. Any gift you give between now and then will be matched by an anonymous donor to DOUBLE your impact. Click here to give now.

 

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