In the past two and a half years since Veerawit Tianchainan stepped into position as our Thailand Executive Director, he has spearheaded efforts in expanding our reach locally across communities, as well as on the provincial, national, regional and even international levels. We collaborate with organizations in multiple networks to help bring the prevention side of anti-trafficking more into the discussion as well as take part in a more coordinated and united front to the challenges trafficking presents.
Here are some of the ways we’re expanding:
- In the first year, we grew our community base to cover all of Chiang Rai province
- We formed a coalition – the Coordination Committee for the CSOs in Chiang Rai working on human trafficking, children’s rights, and human rights. It started with about 15 organizations and now includes almost 30.
- We’ve been participating in national meetings and conferences, and have been working with the Ministry of Justice of Thailand and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on issues pertaining to human rights, child rights, and anti-human trafficking.
- We partner with NGO coalitions on child safe and friendly tourism, targeting trafficking in the tourism industry. It became a national campaign now also involving the Ministry of Tourism, the Royal Thai police, immigration police, and UN organizations.
- We work with the United Nations: with UNICEF, UN Women, UNDP (Development Programs), UNOHCHR (Human Rights), UN ESCAP (Economic & Social Commission for Asia & Pacific), and the UN’s working group on migration.
- We’re grateful to receive funding from USAID CTIP projects, and work together with USAID and Winrock International at the national and regional levels.
- We work with ARAT (Asia Region Anti-Trafficking), becoming a partner in 2019 and rising to become a core member in 2020. This group comprises about 200 organizations in Asia Pacific and beyond, including organizations from the EU.
- And last but not least, we also work with ASEAN, in the governmental commissions on human rights, and the ASEAN commissions on women and children, collaborating with them to bring the issues of the prevention of human trafficking and child trafficking into those regional policy discussions.
What These Collaborations Helps Us Achieve
In the past, counter-trafficking discussions at the governmental level focused heavily on prosecutions, response, and rehabilitation – understandable, as these areas are the most obvious tools in the government’s toolkit. However, The Freedom Story has been able to bring the prevention side to the table, to argue that trafficking can and should be prevented from happening in the first place, and to show ourselves as a case study that prevention works. Together with the government agencies and the NGOs that provide aftercare services, we can achieve a more holistic approach to anti-trafficking.
Our part in the discussion involves not only our model of prevention (education, resources, etc.) but also advocating for and helping to formulate and substantiate standard policy procedures so that people know, if they’ve been approached by a trafficker, what they can do and who they can talk to.
The collaborations with other organizations in the area have brought financial and political support to Chiang Rai, making it a more strategic location in which to develop best practices in anti human trafficking work.
I began to see more discussion about prevention. Prevention becomes one of the key messages in the meetings and the conferences related to anti human trafficking. I could see that organizations that, in the past, only talked about prosecution and response and rehabilitation, are now talking about prevention as well. I think that the inception of the prevention idea into the mind is something we’ve been quite successful at bringing into the discussions. – Veerawit Tianchainan
By working together with USAID and the US Consulate in Chiang Mai, we’re able to spread the message of prevention so that this dimension enters into the discussion and recommendations in the U.S. State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons Report. We’re beginning to see the language of prevention showing up in these spaces.
Last year, we were recognized by the governor of Chiang Rai Province as one of the best organizations on anti human trafficking in the province. We were also awarded the Human Rights Award by the Thai Prime Minister. This recognition positions us as one of the leading organizations on anti human trafficking with a focus on prevention. It lends legitimacy to our prevention model. Our hope is that we’ll be able to share our ideas with other like-minded organizations so that other organizations that are interested in doing something about prevention would be able to use our model as a guide, and we would be able to support them in doing that.
Trafficking is such a huge issue and we can’t be everywhere. Hopefully our model is one that others can adapt, so that even if The Freedom Story can’t be everywhere, prevention can.
“Prevention work is not just a model. It’s a movement. And The Freedom Story is taking the lead in this social movement [that] maybe could be expanded through the international network that we’ve been working with. It could become a global movement in terms of preventing human trafficking in the future.” – Veerawit Tianchainan