The story of a 7 year old girl from Northern Thailand

The story of a 7 year old girl from Northern Thailand

Written by Not For Sale

Today is Giving Tuesday, a global day of giving and unity in response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19.  I wanted to share with you an incredible story of freedom, made possible only by the support and donations you continue to provide. 

Today I send you my heartfelt thanks, and hope you share this story with others and encourage them to support our cause, as you have. 

The best pathway to a future, and potentially citizenship, was education.

David Batstone – co-founder Not For Sale

When I first met Krunam in 2006 on a visit to the border of Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand (The Golden Triangle), I was struck by her grit.  She was a mother bear, who would fight for every last one of her cubs. At that time she had rescued 27 kids from the karaoke bars and mafia beggar rings that exploited children.

My first promise to her was that I would provide shelter for those 27 kids. Once secure in a safe home, the next step was to provide an education. Almost all of these kids were “stateless” – ethnic tribal groups that no country would claim as citizens.

The best pathway to a future, and potentially citizenship, was education.

We have sent hundreds of stateless and trafficked kids to schools over the past thirteen years.  Last year alone (2019) Not For Sale Thailand sent 39 children from our village to some of the best boarding high schools in the country, and three went to university.

In 2015 we were proud that two of our “Not For Sale” children, a boy and a girl, became the first two stateless children to graduate from a Thai university in the history of the country.

That opened the door for others to follow.

In this short video I share the story of Bupa, a young girl who came to live with Krunam when she was 7 years old. Her story is beyond inspirational.

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Co-Founder Update

Written by Mark Wexler

This week I’d like to provide you updates from several of our projects in the field. The effects that COVID-19 is having on our community of survivors is very real. 

Peruvian Amazon

Our fishery project deep in the Peruvian Amazon has been crucial to keeping many indigenous communities COVID-19 free because they don’t need to travel into the city to purchase their protein. If the people there contracted COVID-19 it would have horrific effects, as they lack access to hospitals that are equipped to handle the pandemic. However, adding new fisheries was halted last month because of a funding shortage due to COVID-19.

“Not since the early days of the HIV pandemic have I witnessed such challenges. South Africa is under lockdown. There is so much fear around what Covid-19 could do because of the number of people with HIV.”

Southern Africa Not For Sale Director – Tom Hewitt

Bahn Kru Nam, Golden Triangle, Thailand

Typically, half of the kids that live at our Bahn Kru Nam community home attend boarding schools during the school year. Due to COVID-19, all of our kids are back living in the home. This has put great stress on our staff, who now have to feed more kids than expected, help with school work, and much more. Making things more difficult, food costs have tripled, putting pressure on our already limited budget, which had to be cut due to COVID-related funding shortages. 

 

Durban, South Africa

Our Southern Africa director, Tom Hewitt, shared the following: “Not since the early days of the HIV pandemic have I witnessed such challenges. South Africa is under lockdown. There is so much fear around what Covid-19 could do because of the number of people with HIV.”

We have ensured that all of our children are in safe local care throughout this lockdown period. This plan is vital as the homeless are being rounded up and put in poor conditions in stadiums and “hostels.”

At this critical time, our funding to support our work in South Africa has been cut short due to COVID-19.

 

We will continue to share updates from the field and the reality of the effect that COVID-19 is having on our work. Thank you for your continued support.

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A Story of Generosity

Last December, a rock musician named Toon in Thailand announced that he was raising money for public healthcare, undertaking a 1,300 mile run over 55 days to gain interest in the cause. Toon asked every Thai person to give 10 baht (about a quarter) which, when pooled together, would be more than enough to meet his goal. The children of Not For Sale Thailand were inspired to help Toon reach his goal, and starting scraping together coins to donate. They realized that their collection was meager, so they decided to go to the local market and ask for donations toward Toon’s cause. Their hard work paid off and their donation of around $3 turned into over $500!  Kru Nam, Not For Sale Thailand director, was excited to see the dedication the children had, even as they themselves had little to give. Because the children had been helped by others, they felt the duty to also be in service of others. The gift of giving inspired the children to themselves be givers, to those who need help. Toon’s goal was to raise $20 million. He raised $33 million. If you’re inspired by this story like we are, help us tell another story of generosity, hope, and change by giving to Not For Sale this holiday season.  Will you inspire by joining the cycle of generosity?

Meet Meta: Not For Sale Thailand

Meet Meta. Meta was one of the stateless children who grew up with Kru Nam, the project director in Not For Sale Thailand, who provided her the opportunity to go to school at 5 years old.  Before meeting Kru Nam, Meta would sell flowers at night for her aunt, sometimes even staying out until 2 or 3 am. Between 10 and 11pm, Kru Nam and two others, Pi Pok and Kru Ake, would bring mats to the Tha Pae Gate in the city’s main square and engaged with street children through art and teaching them how to read and write. Meta would walk past this area each night when selling flowers and would sometimes even stop by and sit in on lessons if her aunt didn’t see her.

One day, Kru Nam visited her  aunt’s apartment, and asked Meta if she’d like to go to school. Clinging to the opportunity, Meta immediately packed her bag and left with Kru Nam. Later, Meta was dropped off at a boarding school, where she describes having learned everything. When first arriving, Meta was unable to speak the Thai language, however she was still taken in and taught gradually. At the Buddhakasetra School, apart from receiving an education, Meta learned how to cook her own meals, how to live sufficiently and independently, and work hard.

Because of Meta’s hard work, she was able to  attend college and was the first stateless child to graduate from a Thai university which ultimately allowed her to gain full Thai citizenship.

Today, Meta rescues at-risk and sick children off the streets of Thailand and provides them with the care that they need. #SheInspiresMe

Not For Sale Thailand: Kru Nam

Kru Nam is the spirit of Not For Sale. Without her, we would not exist.

A mother and an artist, Kru Nam first got involved with the issue of human trafficking when she brought paints to children on the streets of Thailand, encouraging them to share their stories. What they painted shocked her– the images illustrated trauma that no child should know.

Kru Nam was determined to change the course of these children’s lives. The majority of them had left everything in their home countries to seek financial success in Thailand, but had gotten manipulated by traffickers to work in karaoke bars, where they were subject to sexual exploitation. Despite death threats from traffickers, Kru Nam traveled to Chiang Mai and drove her truck through the alleyways of red light districts, offering children inside the bars an opportunity to start over.

At the time, the only space Kru Nam could provide her children was her own half-built house. It was an infinitely better option than their previous situation, but still unsustainable. One night, the wiring short circuited and burnt down the house and everyone’s belongings.

Kru Nam was devastated by the tragedy, but still refused to give up. “Why would I have to surrender to destiny?” She felt bound to her children’s struggles and knew she would find a way to give them the futures they deserved– “I know this fight is hard, but there is no other choice.”

Her lifeline was a card with David Batstone’s email on it. Not even knowing what email was, she went to an Internet cafe and asked the other customers for help. They didn’t take her seriously but helped her write to the American, explaining her situation in English.

Four days later, Mark Wexler arrived in Thailand with $10,000 strapped to his body. Kru Nam became Not For Sale’s first project director.

Now, with Not For Sale’s help, Kru Nam runs a shelter for about 150 rescued street children, providing them with dormitories, medical care, basketball courts, an organic farm, a library, and a computer center. There have been many setbacks along the way, but she never let them slow her down. From being arrested countless times to arguing with school officials about stateless children’s right to education, she always put her kids’ safety above her own. Among the hardships, there have been incredible successes, such as seeing one of her children become the first stateless individual to graduate from Thai university.

We thank Kru Nam for her courageous sacrifices to the anti human trafficking movement. This Wednesday, we are honored to have this social justice warrior as our #WCW.

#NFSWomen #WomanCrushWednesday