Yindee* loves to sing, it makes her feel relaxed and happy. Having that outlet is important for a teen girl who shoulders as many responsibilities as she does.
Yindee, 15, lives with her grandparents because her parents have migrated elsewhere for work. Her grandparents care about her well-being, but with such a huge age gap, and in a culture that tends not to voice emotions, they often struggle to communicate it in a positive way. Yindee is an active student, a member of the student council, and often comes home late, where she is expected to do housework. Her grandparents complain harshly about her long hours away from home and are generally unsupportive of her pursuing education, leading to friction between them.
There is also pressure because they’re subsisting on very little money – just the government stipends for the elderly her grandparents get plus a disability stipend for her grandmother. Yindee’s parents are unable to send her much money at all.
Meanwhile, Yindee’s bedroom area is dilapidated and exposed and there is an area nearby where youths like to mingle – a context that our staff felt was not properly secure or safe. Staff feared that she might be exposed to sexual abuse by the youths who hang out and drink in the area, or be negatively influenced by it.
Yindee is from an area where youths generally have few options or opportunities. Drug and alcohol addictions in this area are common. As one teacher put it, they have two choices: sell sex or sell drugs. Yindee has so much potential, but she knows that there’s nothing for her in this environment. If her grandparents convinced her to drop out of school to help bring in income, her choices would be constrained even further – minors have very few legitimate job options, very few could even earn the minimum wage, while selling sex often earns double or more. It would be a hard path to avoid.
Since becoming one of our scholarship students, Yindee has thrived in our programs, where she has had more room to grow and test her strengths. She has grown in her capacity as a leader, demonstrating her assertiveness.
Because she developed a close, trusting relationship with her staff mentors, she found people she could turn to for advice and guidance. She says, “[their] mentoring makes me feel that I have a refuge when I have a problem, because I will always consult the staff, whether it is about studying, family, and my own personal matters.”
Through activities such as our Family Camp, our staff were also able to support her and her grandparents’ ability to communicate with each other and understand each other better, leading her grandparents to be more supportive of her decisions, including the pursuit of education.
Yindee also benefited from our afterschool activities, such as the training on online safety and the “Girl Rising” projects, which she says improved her self-motivation and attitude. She loves the music club because of her affinity for singing, and she also feels she has gained valuable information from her human rights awareness training.
The biggest change for her comes this month, when she will graduate from our prevention program and move to Bangkok to reunite with her mother. Her plan is to live with her mother while pursuing education at a cooking school, where she will have internships that also bring in some income.
Though she is nervous about leaving the village where she’s lived her whole life and trepidatious about moving to such a big city as Bangkok, she’s put a lot of thought and consideration into this choice and knows it’s the best chance for growing beyond her current environment.
Her staff mentors feel very confident in her ability to thrive. They say she is a lovely, friendly, expressive, capable person and a proven leader who is great at helping others solve problems. She’s demonstrated great character, and they believe she is immune to the lures of risky offers, and that she can handle making good decisions. Our staff will continue to stand by her in this big move, talking to her regularly and helping her navigate this new path as needed.
It is truly inspiring to witness her transformation from a child at risk, constrained, and conflicted to a young woman forging her way toward greater opportunity. Our staff are eager to see where her path leads, and will continue to support her every step of the way.
Between now and April 25, 2023, we’re asking for your support to continue helping children in similar circumstances as Yindee – children who have few viable life options and are at risk of being pushed into engaging in the sex trade to support their familes. To help ensure their safety the way we’ve worked to support and empower Yindee, we need to raise $10,000 by April 25.
Thank you for taking part in the movement to end child sex trafficking!
*Name changed to protect her privacy.