Disclaimer: If you’re hoping this post will be full of photos of the girls or details of heart wrenching rescue stories, you will be disappointed. Firstly, we haven’t built relationship with the girls or gained their permission. Secondly, it’s just not our style. We want to respect them and continue to create an environment where they feel safe, not exploited.
After our time in Chiang Mai, we jumped on a bus for the three hour trip to Chiang Rai, home of Destiny Rescue (DR). More on what they do a little later.
We bunked in at our accommodation at Le Patta and decided it was up there with the nicest places we’ve stayed. We booked it in Chiang Mai whilst I was in the midst of a horrible bout of gastro, but we got a 60% discount, so it was more affordable.
The room was beautiful and Amy got to feed the giant gold-fish at the foyer every day. She loved it there and the staff loved her.
Over the next few days we met staff (mostly in the Destiny Cafe) and got to learn more about what they do.
For those of you who don’t know anything about DR, I’ve taken this blurb from their website to give you an idea.
Destiny Rescue is a grassroots, internationally recognised, Christian based, non-profit organisation dedicated to rescuing children from human trafficking and sexual exploitation.
RESCUE: Our Rescue Agents visit red lights areas undercover and identify underaged children.
Once identified, they will either:
- Build trust with the children and offer the safest escape route possible.
- Partner with anti-trafficking police to gain intelligence and help facilitate a raid.
The brothel managers are often arrested and the premises shut down, meaning no more abuse can take place there. Both methods of rescue are vital in fulfilling our vision to see child slavery ended in our lifetimes.
AFTER CARE: Through our aftercare programs, not only are these children and young adults offered medical care and counselling, they are brought to a “rescue home” where they can live peacefully, eat nutritious meals, get a valuable education and play interactive games with other children. In addition, when they reach a certain age, they can learn a skilled trade like sewing, jewellery making, hairstyling, waitressing or cooking. A proper education and vocational training are key components for successful reintegration back into society.
We were very honoured to spend one day with Jenny Kirwin, founder of Destiny Rescue. She took us to the rescue base and introduced us to people who gave us greater insight into what they do. They were gracious enough to answer our questions, even if some were a little tough. You can tell that everyone who works there loves what they do and has a passion for the beautiful girls they rescue. They are continually seeking to improve their integration processes and empower the once powerless to have a better life.
We did manage one touristy thing whilst in Chiang Rai. The always wonderful Jenny and her daughter Jessie, took us to see the white temple.
Some of the white temple is still off-limits due to renovations from a major earthquake, but I’m glad we went. Honestly it’s more an artistic creepy masterpiece than an authentic Thai temple. There are status of demons everywhere and inside the temple there is a mural with Star Wars images, which has nothing to do with Buddhism at all. It’s just a little odd. See the last photo for one example.
We finally said goodbye to Thailand and now we’re in Vietnam for about 6 weeks, but before I go I have just a few extra thoughts for you.
When we originally started planning this trip, Destiny Rescue was the first place we thought of and connected with. After all this time it was great to finally visit. We were able to hear their heart and let them hear ours. The solutions to child sex-trafficking in Thailand are simple and complicated at the same time.
Firstly, the simple… IT IS NOT OK, IT HAS TO STOP.
The complicated… there are cultural barriers, racism towards tribal groups and discrimination against the poor (because it’s their karma), political corruption, discouraging red-tape, financial restrictions, lack of staff, lack of resources and the list keeps going.
If you’re interested in the intervention and reintegration aspects of child sex-trafficking, this is my advice to you:
~ Realise that every organisation from prevention to reintegration needs to be working within their own specific area. We need each group to be working well and realise that one organisation can’t do it all. So find out what you’re passionate about, and support that organisation.
~ Realise that prevention looks like community development. By investing in a community or sponsoring a child, you are in fact fighting human trafficking. It may not be ‘exciting’, but it’s extremely powerful.
~ Financially support those who are on the field. It costs money to live overseas and it costs money to run training programs for girls (or boys). You’ll be surprised how far $10 will go a month. $10 is better than $0. Give what you can, but give something.
~ Read a few books (I ask everyone for their recommendations). Here are three to start with: When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert, Walking with the Poor by Bryant Myers, The White Umbrella by Mary Frances Bowley. The No Project also have a great reading list: http://thenoproject.org/english/videos-books/books/
~ Go to uni and get the skills that organisations like DR need – trauma counselling, business management, administration, teaching, TESOL, social and human services workers, community development, international law etc.
Over the past 5 months we have been blessed to connect with many organisations and meet many people who have a passion to see human trafficking, specific the sex-trade, ended. We felt God ask us to step out and serve and observe groups such as these for a season. To be honest we don’t know why and we don’t know where it will lead our family. We are glad that we have stepped out of the boat and we can do our little part to help where we can.
So our journey continues and we will continue to follow where God leads.
Love Jess xxoo