ADRA Canada is supporting the Keep Girls Safe program in Thailand. This wonderful program helps prevent vulnerable young girls in Northern Thailand from falling victim to human trafficking and modern-day slavery. Your gifts to the Keep Girls Safe program will help provide new beds, furniture, fans and desks for the shelter. It will also help with the costs of daily operation.
Yam’s story is typical of the girls that the Keep Girls Safe program has helped.
“I have a dream to be a doctor. I want to care for my mom and my grandfather, they are the only family I have left,” said Yam a young poor girl who lived with her hard of hearing, alcoholic grandfather.
Yam and her family moved to Chiang Rai, northern Thailand to live with her grandfather when she was 9 years old. At the age of 10, her father passed away causing her mother to be a single mom and the breadwinner for the family. Yam’s mother had to work as a housemaid in another province to feed Yam and her grandfather.
“My mom sent her wages back to us but it wasn’t enough. I hardly ever bought what I needed because I had to help my grandfather and my mom save money. I only got a few cents for school and some days I didn’t have any money when the school provided lunch. I brought all my pocket money to be held by one of my teachers, for savings, and I didn’t have money to buy snacks. Sometimes my friends shared their snacks with,” said Yam.
Yam’s situation was vulnerable. She stayed with an old unemployed grandfather. At a young age, she had to work in a store to have money for school. She was supporting herself.
“Yam was at a very high risk of human trafficking or exploitation. Yam’s family was too poor to support her education and it might have been possible that she would end her dreams of college and instead quit school and work. Young girls like Yam are easily seduced to work in the city through a false promise of a large income but then, they end up in a bar or brothel,” said the Keep Girls Safe project manager.
Thailand is a source, destination and transit country for human trafficking including forced labour and the sex trade. In 2012 the Royal Thai police reported there were 305 cases related to human trafficking. The target areas and the victims are mostly from the hill tribes of Northern Thailand. The Keep Girls Safe project was established to protect young, vulnerable girls from ethnic groups in Chiang Rai who are at high risk of human trafficking. The project provides a warm and loving shelter to more than 30 girls including education support.
The project staff realized that Yam was in a fragile situation and needed to help her.
“When I was in grade 7, I remember I was 13 years old and the staff came to my school to deliver the good news that I was accepted to stay in the shelter. I thought the scholarship would help my mom, she worked hard for me and I know that she was very tired and stressed. Now I can study with no worries about school fees,” said Yam.
“I learned many things from the shelter including how to adapt myself in society. I came from a small family and I liked to stay alone. But when I stayed in the shelter, we had to help each other. I learned to be more patient because we are from different families and backgrounds. We all have different problems so I learned not to put myself in the center but to think of others. The staff always told me to forgive and forget when others did wrong to me so that I can happily live with others,” said Yam
With the support from the shelter, Yam put her focus on the education needed to follow her dream. Yam graduated from high school with GPA 3.26 and is considered to be one of the finest students in the shelter.
“My dream was to be a doctor but I decided to choose nursing because it takes less time studying and the tuition is not too high. I would like to work in a hospital and to be a nurse. I think this is the right choice for me.”
“I’ve dreamed since I was young that I would study in the university and after I graduated I would find a decent job to support my mom and my grandfather. I believe that studying at the university is like an investment but the benefit that I will get is more than enough. I will have knowledge and skills. With a good education, I will have a good job, a good future,” said Yam.
“If I hadn’t been in the shelter, I wouldn’t have studied. My mom would’ve worked very hard and she would’ve become discouraged and burnt out. Because the burden she carried is very heavy, she was responsible for all the expenses in the family and I might have dropped out of school and worked. I am so thankful to have stayed in the shelter. Thank you so much.”
Please be a part of Keep Girls Safe project and ADRA to help young poor girls like Yam to have education and future.