Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Hope grows in North Thailand
We had an amazing chance to meet Kit, with New Life Center Foundation in Chiang Mai (www.nlcfoundation.org), a non-profit that works to empower ethnic minority tribes in Thailand through education, vocational training, advocacy. They are doing some really great things in the region. Changing lives, one person at a time. If you get a chance, check out their website. It's really inspiring to see people who have committed to being "on the ground", helping those who have been exploited or are at risk for exploitation.
The most memorable part for me was hearing about how art therapy has helped some of the women deal with their trauma and how New Life has created a safe space for them to express themselves creatively.
We hope to establish partnerships with non-profits like this one to create long-term economic opportunities for these women.
We also had the privilege of working with Garden of Hope (www.thegardenofhope.org). After a brief training session (and background security check), we were encouraged to play with the kids in the drop in center. Many of these kids are considered “at risk”: often they are called flower children, and as soon as they are old enough to walk, they carry flowers from bar to bar and sell them to bar patrons. This makes them an easy target for pedophiles. This also exposes them to a more raw form of evil: the interaction between a john and a prostitute. What I love about the drop-in center is that it gives the kids a chance to be just kids...
Of course, we gave eye exams to all 40 or so kids in the drop in center, as well as any staff. The age range was 2 1/2 to 44 years old (staff members)
Another amazing ministry the Garden of Hope does is outreach to bar girls. We go into the bars buy a drink and buy their time; we want to see how they are doing and establish a relationship with them. The idea is that the girls feel like there is someone and somewhere they can turn to if they want to leave the job situation they are in. Another important aim is that we are not looking down on them for their profession. We care for them unconditionally. If they ask, we can give them information about different and better job opportunities and training programs.
This is just our brief snapshot of some of the amazing things The Garden of Hope does for sexually exploited women and children. Please visit their website for more information.