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Student Story: Meet Saeng
December 3, 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. This is what successful prevention looks like.

When Saeng* was a teenager, she dreamed of pursuing higher education in Science and Mathematics. She was a bright and dedicated student. But it was doubtful that she could afford it when she could hardly even cover exam fees. She thought her only option might be vocational training – and still, money was tight.

Saeng’s father struggled with alcoholism. He often stole from his own family to feed his addiction, even stealing items her mother had planned to sell at the market so he could use them to buy alcohol, leaving her without anything to sell to feed the family. Saeng had older siblings who had quit school at a young age to work and support the family. Her siblings were so frustrated with their parents’ constant arguing and how their father kept harming their mother that they left, cutting off ties with the family.

Saeng felt her siblings had abandoned her to deal with the situation alone, and she was very hurt and angry. She often thought about running away from the family, too. She was tired of her parents constantly fighting and having no food at home. She was sent to live in a dormitory for children in poverty when money got too tight. Even from the dorm, however, she always heard the news about them fighting over and over again.

If she had given in to these impulses, running away from home as a teenage girl would have left her incredibly vulnerable to traffickers and other exploiters. Thankfully, that didn’t happen. In 2011/2012, she received her first scholarship from The Freedom Story – and so much more.

How The Freedom Story Helped Saeng

When Saeng joined The Freedom Story, she felt like her “mental health was broken” from dealing with so much family stress. For her, support from The Freedom Story was not just the scholarships that helped cover the costs of education – including getting her back on the path to higher education. It was the emotional support her mentors provided. Through their care and advice, she learned to give her siblings grace for leaving, even when it was painful for her that they didn’t come to their father’s funeral. She began to see they had their own families to care for, too, and through that, she learned to let go of the anger she had been carrying.

With the support of scholarships, Saeng graduated from university, and she is very proud to now be employed as a teacher for a local school. She has been teaching Chemistry at the middle school level for about three years now.

She says,

“These things would not have happened if I had not received the help from the foundation. If I didn’t receive the scholarship that day, I don’t know what my life would be like now. For me, I feel a certain degree of success both in my studies and in my current job.”

Her mentors share that Saeng always feels as though The Freedom Story gave her a special treat, even though we provide support to all our scholarship students equally. Saeng says, “For me, being a scholarship student, I feel very lucky to have received this opportunity that many people may not have. I received help in terms of tuition fees, learning materials, and the cost of uniforms. The Freedom Story mentors take care of everyone like they are one family. Everyone is always ready to give advice and help in various ways.”

Now, at the age of 28, Saeng has matured a lot. She’s a stronger person and has a better understanding of the world. She is proud of her career and feels she can help other children as well. 

Because of what Saeng has experienced in her own life, she keenly understands her students and what it’s like to deal with a difficult situation alone and not have anyone to talk to. She can identify students who need help but lack the courage to speak to a teacher. She’ll seek them out and help them get through their problem. She’s always there for them and does her best without expecting anything in return – just like what she received from The Freedom Story. Her mentors supported her, never expecting anything in return; now, she’s doing the same for her students. She even won a Best Teacher award.

“I would like to thank The Freedom Story for giving me the opportunity that day. It made my parents and everyone in my family, including me, proud. I want to thank all the staff mentors who always take care of us and help, including a thank you to all the donors who have supported The Freedom Story in creating an organization that gives opportunities to children who have no opportunities in many ways. Thank you very much.” – Saeng

*Her name has been changed and the header photo does not depict her, in order to protect her privacy.

Thank you so much to all our caring supporters who made this change from risk to resilience possible. This giving season, we’re asking you to continue supporting other children like Saeng, 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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