This is a story about three little girls that have been trafficked – a story I wish did not need telling. Unfortunately, however, in today’s world it does need to be told – and heard – by those of us fortunate enough to be able to make a difference.
For nearly four years now we’ve been working in support of the Good Shepherd Sisters Girls School in Phan, a small town just a bit south of Chiang Rai ,Thailand. This is a boarding school for approximately 60 hill tribe girls attending junior and senior high school – with three of them now attending university on scholarships provided by our supporters.
Pim is a six-year old Akha girl from one of the Northern Thailand hill tribes. Her mother recently died. Her father is now in prison – for a long time. Having no other living relatives, Pim was passed along to a neighbor family for her care. Sometime shortly thereafter they decided that they could no longer afford to care for Pim – so they sold her to a Burmese man. Sold her!! Pim was thus destined to be a slave worker, at best, and who knows what else once she got a little older. Fortunately, a local priest got wind of this “deal” and managed to buy Pim back for the sum of 8,000 Baht (about $250).
(If the priest could buy her back for that small amount of money what do you suppose the original sale price was? Perhaps as little as half that)?
The priest then brought Pim to the Good Shepherd Sisters for shelter. She now resides permanently with the Sisters in Phan, being schooled by volunteers and some of the older girls. In May she will be enrolled in Primary Grade 1 at the local government school. And, once she completes Grade 6, she will continue her education at the boarding school. She has her life back.
And, here is Amika, a nine-year old Lisu girl from another of the local hill tribe villages. She, too, comes from a broken family. Her parents divorced when she was just six months old. Both remarried and moved away shortly thereafter. Amika then went to live with her aging grandmother. Now, with her grandmother seriously ailing and no longer able to care for Amika, a village teacher brought her to the Good Shepherd Sisters to remove her from a clearly high-risk situation. Amika will enter Primary Grade 2 in May. Due to her lack of schooling so far, she is behind her grade level. But Amika is a clever girl and is expected to catch up quickly. She too can continue at the boarding school once she completes primary school.
Lastly, at least for now, just arrived is nine-year old Jantra. Like Pim, Jantra is Ahka, from a local village. We’re not sure about the whereabouts of her mother, but we do know that her father sold her to one of his friends for 8,000 Baht (~$250) to support his drug habit, thereby sealing Jantra’s fate as a slave worker of one sort or another. Fortunately, this man’s brother, Jantra’s uncle, learned about the situation and was able to buy Jantra back and take her to the Good Shepherd Sisters for safekeeping. Once Jantra met the Sisters, she immediately felt safe.
So safe, in fact, that when offered an opportunity to live in a different school with girls her own age she stridently refused saying that if she went with other people she was afraid that “they might sell me again”. (Can you imagine? At nine years old! That’s a tough one for me to get my head around. How about you?) Like Amika, Jantra will be entering Primary Grade 2 in May. She, too, now has her life back and can look forward to a safe education through high school.
Now, with the “Big Problems” solved, the “little problem” is that we need money to support these girls. Since the living accommodations at the school already exist, $500 per girl per year should fund the immediate needs for school uniforms, supplies, transportation, and the like.
Right now I’d love to find three sponsors that would commit $500 per year to get these three girls through primary school and into the boarding school program. Who will step up and help here? Could it be you?
Looking just a bit ahead, however, and now knowing all too well how prevalent the trafficking of girls can be in this region, I simply had to ask Sister Lena how she will handle girl number four … and five … and six … and … once the word gets out that there is a safe place for these at-risk girls. (The number is likely to reach ten very quickly!)
That was a challenging question. And, that was the precise moment when Sr. Lena and I both realized there was a new mission to be fulfilled at her Girls Home. Simply put, we need to save more of these trafficked girls.The next step was obvious.
We need to raise some additional money– and build up a reserve fund of at least $5,000.
So now I need some caring donors that will contribute so we’ll be able to rescue those additional girls that will inevitably begin showing up now that this safe haven is becoming known. (As shocking as it sounds, we might actually have to”buy” some of these girls)!
How about it? Can you join me and take care of these girls?
As with all of the projects supported by the SE Asia Children’s Foundation, I can assure you that 100% of your contributions go directly to meet the needs of these girls. There is no shrinkage for administration, overhead, or fund-raising. All that is covered personally.
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SE Asia Foundation
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