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.