The SOLD Project Blog

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APR 14
10:13 AM

A Road of Many Pitfalls

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Among the subpopulations vulnerable to exploitation, the stateless children are in the most danger. Statelessness is a condition that affects over half a million people in Thailand alone*—most are refugees from Myanmar (Burma) or the children of refugees. Some have lived in Thailand their whole lives; some come from families who have lived in Thailand for generations, but as refugees they are not officially recognized by either Myanmar or Thailand. They have no claim to citizenship rights, nor the protections of either state. If they disappear, no one will come to their aid.

One of our scholarship students, Chana**, has lived in Thailand his entire life. Despite extreme financial challenges, many bureaucratic hurdles, and several experiences of outright racism, he fought his way through school to finally finish with a bachelor’s degree in law. However, because he is one of the stateless, without access to citizenship, it was probable that he would never practice law because he needed to be a citizen to be certified. He would have to go back to work with his family in the fields.

And yet, he persevered. He fought for many years—and won his Thai citizenship.

Yet his story does not end there. A few weeks ago, shocking news came to light. His older brother, who had been the primary breadwinner of their family, who was married with two children, died unexpectedly. The family has been rocked to the core, and now, Chana, as the remaining son, must step up and find a way to support his parents and his brother’s family. Though overcome with grief, he cannot waste a moment, but must act immediately to protect his family.

In the face of these difficulties, Chana remains a testament to maturity and grace as he soldiers on. He is in mourning, but insists upon controlling his emotions. He says, “If you want to succeed in life, you have no excuse to ever give up.” At the moment, he is growing pineapples and selling them on his own, as he continues to pursue his dream of one day practicing law.

His dedication and perseverance is an inspiration and role model for us all. We will be rooting for him as he continues to tackle this next big hurdle.

* Source: UNHCR Thailand profile 
** name changed to protect privacy

 

APR 08
02:56 PM

Vote for SOLD in the Progress is GOOD Challenge!

We have an exciting announcement! The SOLD Project has been nominated for the Progress is GOOD Challenge. But we need your help. One of the top ten submissions with the most votes will receive a Custom GOOD video and a feature on GOOD.is to share their project idea. There are currently 98 submissions. We would love your support in helping us become one of the top 10 submissions with the most votes! 

Good.is is a place to share creative solutions for living well and doing good. GOOD is a collective of three organizations focused on creative solutions for a better world: GOOD/Media, GOOD/Community and GOOD/Corps. Within these three large platforms, GOOD has a huge audience and we would love to share our story with that audience. GOOD and Progressive have teamed up to create the Progress Is GOOD Challenge. The Progress Is GOOD Challenge is a search for progress makers whose initiatives make things a little bit better and drive our world forward.

Voting is open now through April 18th and you can vote once per day. Will you take a second to click for GOOD? 

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 Click here to vote! 

MAR 29
01:26 AM

Meet Our New Volunteer Kate!

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Kate Tierney is visiting us for a few months and generously donating her time and skills to help run some inspirational workshops for our kids. 

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Welcome, Kate! How has your time at The SOLD Project been so far?

I can't believe I am already half-way through volunteering in Chiang Rai with The SOLD Project- time is flying by way too fast. My expectations when I arrived here were to gain an understanding of how prevention works, connect with the children at the resource center, and to learn. What I have experienced in the past month is unmeasurable, and I am so thankful that I can be involved every afternoon! 
The children who spend time at the resource center have been warm and welcoming, and are always eager to learn and create! On my first day, I noticed all of the girls were huddled outside and when I stepped out, they quickly called me over. They were getting haircuts by one of the staff members and must have thought I needed one too! I ended up getting quite the trim, making this the most memorable haircut I'll ever have!  
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It continues to amaze me how we can have such strong connections despite a language barrier. Even with my weekly tutoring and lots of practice, I am struggling to grasp this difficult language (though I have mastered a few useful and funny sayings!) The children are very patient with my laughable attempts at speaking Thai, and have spent lots of time going over pronunciations with me. I try to help them with their English as well and it's really exciting to hear them improve and feel more confident. Watching several of the children at their graduation was moving for me, as I could really feel the excitement and sense of pride over their accomplishment!
Spending time with these children really puts into perspective how crucial and successful The SOLD Project is. While the many art projects and games of badminton we have played were full of laughter, there is an immensely larger success happening here. Having a safe place where children can come to after a long day of school to feel comfortable and supported is essential for their health and success. I have always been inspired and impressed by the goals of The SOLD Project, but to see these goals actually being accomplished has been a life changing experience for me.
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I look forward to the next month full of new lessons and adventures! I will be teaching the children about  the importance of self -respect, how to identify an unhealthy relationship, and discussing body health and confidence! I have planned fun art projects and other related activities for my lessons so I am really looking forward to this opportunity! 
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She's got some fantastic activities planned for our kids. We're so excited to have Kate on board!
MAR 27
06:28 PM

Meet Emily Nelson

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We'd like you to meet Emily Nelson, our newest addition to the growing The SOLD Project board. Education has always been Emily's focus which is why she went on to study and become a teacher. After working in San Jose she then became trained to work with children who have learning disabilities. When Emily and her husband moved to Danville, CA to help plant a church (which would grow to over 2000 attendees), Emily become involved in both the Programming Team and served as the Drama Director. As her three boys left the nest, Emily's passion began to expand from education to local non-profits. She joined the Board of Directors at Shepherd's Gate, a homeless shelter for women and children in her community, after volunteering with them for many years.

Emily met The SOLD Project's President, Rachel Goble, when Rachel was an intern in the High School department at CrossWinds Church.  When Rachel came back from graduate school with the SOLD movie in hand, Emily was immediately moved by the devastating story of sex trafficking and began to volunteer at their annual fundraiser for Northern California.  After years of volunteering in the Bay Area, she decided it was time to visit the groudn work in Thailand. In 2013 she joined one of SOLD's Activist Vision Trips. From the Red Light district to the small village of Chiang Rai where SOLD is based, she traveled and learned about the many aspects of sex trafficking and rehabilitation.  One thing became crystal clear: while rescuing is needed, prevention is KEY.  Since returning, Emily has taken on a more active role at SOLD by representing and speaking at events. She considers it a privilege to join the Board of Directors for The SOLD Project, while continuing to educate others about prevention of sex trafficking. 

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Emily blogs at www.beyondtheredchair.com and you can follow her on Instagram

MAR 25
05:59 AM

Using Military Surveillance Technology, Analysts Delve into Trafficking

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Analysts find a trafficking ring, much like organized crime.

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WBUR Boston's Here & Now recently reported on research where former military analysts who used to track insurgents in Afghanistan have started to use military surveillance technology to uncover how trafficking operates in the U.S. and abroad.

Here are some of their findings:

- There is a network of traffickers operating in concert, much like we would see with organized crime. It's not the work of lone wolves, but rather far more coordinated.

"Sex trafficking is a lot like terrorism. It's a problem that's hard to see."

- By tracking movements, they were able to find that minors were often trafficked locally within their own communities. Adults were more often the ones trafficked and sent elsewhere.

- By tracking calls placed in response to ads selling children, the analysts flagged 50 cases over a 10 day period -- far too many for local law enforcement to ever be able to adequately follow and investigate.

- Traffickers are incredibly savvy about using technology to operate their business; law enforcement needs to do the same to effectively combat them. For more information, read the article or listen to the podcast by clicking HERE.

MAR 06
01:47 PM

Re:Act Story // Calendars for a Cause

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We are very inspired by Michelle’s story! She used pictures from her time teaching overseas to make calendars as a way to fundraise money for SOLD. Michelle has shared her story below….

“I had an idea of making calendars as a fundraiser for a while. Photography is a hobby of mine and I wanted to do something with it. I'm originally from Sydney, but I had the chance to go overseas to teach English for three years. I've always liked children. There's an honesty and innocence about them that I think tends to get lost when we grow older. 

As I started to think more seriously about this project, I realized that many of the photos I had taken were of children and decided to choose charities that were related to children. I am passionate about child prostitution, which is how I came across The SOLD Project.

I'm not a pro at taking photos and I created the calendar from scratch using Photoshop - definitely not a pro with that! But I think that if people have an idea and are passionate about it, it will become reality. I also loved the idea that the SOLD Project was working on preventative measures against child exploitation. Coming from a teaching background myself, providing education wasn't only a way to prevent these children from being exploited, but it also provides them with a positive and promising future. 

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I created a website for the fundraiser and found it to be an emotional experience. It saddened me to think how decrepit humanity can be and it also angered me as well, to that that people can fully exploit such vulnerable, helpless children. It was really interesting to see how people reacted and whether or not individuals wanted to support the cause. However, I do believe that any little action counts. And all these small acts can add up to something huge! If I didn't make these calendars, $3000 wouldn't have been raised. If Rachel didn't find the SOLD Project, many children in Northern Thailand probably wouldn't have had the chance to gain an education and they would be much worse off now. Every little action counts. 

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I'm very grateful that I stumbled across The SOLD Project and I've been able to contribute a little to their great work. Hopefully, if I do get a chance to travel to Thailand again, I'll be able to make an actual visit! To the team at SOLD Project, thanks for the awesome work that you guys do. Keep it up!”

Thank you Michelle! Because of your efforts, $1,000 has been donated to the Freedom Project and $1,000 has been donated to the Scholarship Program.

 

MAR 02
04:17 AM

The Inspirational Value of a Child's Courage

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Staff member Khae shares an account of how the actions of one student rippled outward to positively affect those around her.

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Last month, members from the Save the World Project based in Bangkok came to visit us. They were here to give information to our kids about environmental issues in our region. They surveyed the areas around our village and shared their findings with the students as well as asked the students about their opinions concerning environmental issues.

We felt this was an important opportunity, but talking with the kids was a little difficult for them because the kids are shy and had a hard time finding their voice to ask and answer questions. Thailand Director, Tawee Donchai, was able to help explain many important details about the forests, but the students still had difficulty relating to the guests by answering questions and sharing their opinions.

On top of this problem, we also ran into other frustrations, including difficulty with transportation and a few of the students weren't as prepared as we had hoped they would be. 

These difficulties could have really soured the day. However, there was one student, Rian, who, though she did not know all the answers, was courageous enough to speak out. Once she took the bold step of speaking up, others followed. The other kids felt inspired to develop in themselves the courage and ability to express their opinions and talk about important issues. Moreover, Rian felt proud of herself and her ability to help explain the concepts the staff had shared so that the other kids could understand. She was able to do this even though this was the first time she had heard about the concepts herself.

The staff members from Bangkok were glad to have come and were satisfied with the experience. They commented, “Even though the kids are shy, they still listened and participated.” Rian lead in that success. She turned a difficult situation into a constructive venture, helping the entire group connect with each other.

Sometimes, all it takes is one person to make positive change in the others around her.

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FEB 27
06:56 PM

Meet Ken Wytsma

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We'd like you to meet Ken Wytsma, our newest addition to the growing The SOLD Project board. Ken Wytsma is a leader, innovator, and social entrepreneur respected for his insight and collaborative spirit. He is the president of Kilns College, where he teaches courses on philosophy and justice, and is a church planter and lead pastor at Antioch in Bend, Oregon. He also founded The Justice Conference, a national conference seeking to inspire and connect a generation of men and women around a shared concern for biblical and social justice, the vulnerable and oppressed.

Ken is a consultant and creative advisor to nonprofits and a sought after speaker on justice, church and culture. His first book, Pursuing Justice: The Call to Live and Die for Bigger Things, was released by Thomas Nelson Publishers in 2013.

Sex Trafficking has become commonplace language in society. We all believe in being modern day abolitionists, drawing attention to the evils of slavery and drawing red X's on our hands to bring awareness, but how do we really get underneath sexual exploitation? How do we intervene in the life of children before they are pulled into the sex industry at twelve or thirteen? How do we help villages and poor families protect their kids rather than require them to sell themselves in order to feed their families? How do we address the gender inequalities and deficient views of human dignity that many girls grow up with? 

One of the primary answers to the above questions is: prevention. 

Prevention is the long, slow, hard to measure aspect of fighting sex slavery. It is educating, equipping and loving girls and communities to prevent the sexual exploitation from happening in the first place. It is shooting the water at the base of the fire of this problem rather than just fighting the flames. While brothel raids and aftercare for victims are essential, we have to begin thinking more deeply about the roots of sex crime and exploitation and how to prevent it. It is along these lines that the work being done by The SOLD Project in Thailand is essential for both the girls in northern Thailand as well as the justice community that is learning to go deep, love long and build the relationships necessary to truly make a lasting difference.  

- Ken Wytsma

Ken lives in Bend at the foot of the Cascade Mountains with his wife, Tamara, and their four daughters.

Activist Vision TeamKen and our 2014 Activist Vision Team at SOLD's FREEDOM Project Resource Center. 

 

FEB 01
01:15 AM

Personal Strength Gives Us the Freedom to Help Others

Blog -category -title _from -the -field

When we work in prevention, we often contend with competing forces: positive ones of inspiration and achievements, and the more difficult ones of intransigence. Staff member  Kate shares a day in her work and what it took to wade through both the highs and the lows.

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Earlier this month, I called the four students that one of our sponsors takes care of. I set up an appointment with each of them. Two of the students are sisters. I planned to meet with both of them together at their school on the 9th. On my way there, I tried calling each of them, but only one of them had their phone on, and she told me she had decided to go into town that day, which is about one hour away from their school. She added that her sister was still at school, though, so I decided to at least meet with her.

School was closed that day, so the sister in town suggested I go to her dorm instead. She gave me the directions, and I tried to follow them to her dorm. However, the directions I received from her were incorrect. I feel like she intentionally lied to me because no matter how many times I tried to get clarified directions from her, they were always wrong. I walked all over the place in the hot sun trying to find the dorm for about an hour and a half. Finally, when I did get to the dorm, I found out that it was located on the road before the school. But the sister had told me to go straight on that road past the school, turn to go behind another school, and finally turn down the same road I could have gone down in the first place. I had been walking in a big circle!

I was really frustrated. But I finally met with the sister in the dorm, only to find out that the sister in town had not filled out the forms I had asked both of them to do. Now I was even more upset. These girls were not taking care of their responsibilities. So I told them to mail the forms to me as soon as possible. Then I left.

After that, I went to meet with one of the other four students. This student is very responsible and diligent. He met with me and had filled out all of the required forms. Then my feelings changed. I felt better again, especially when he told me that he and his team had won his school's competition for his field. Next month, his team is going to compete nationwide. I was very excited for him. When I shared his success with the rest of the SOLD staff, everyone was happy and felt inspired.

The two sisters--intentionally or not--made that day very difficult for me. I think it was intentional, but I can't let that stop me. I try to encourage all the students I meet with to call me if they have to cancel; or if I have to postpone, I will call them. So it's frustrating when they use other tactics, and when they are late with the required forms.

How did you perservere or try to overcome these obstacles?

I reminded myself that I don't really know everything going on in our students' lives, but I have the responsibility to do my very best in circumstances outside of my control. When I felt frustrated like that, I prayed to God to help me have peace and happiness in my heart again, and He helped me. I was also encouraged by the wonderful news about the third student, and that helped me remember that there is both good and bad in these relationships, and I need to hope for the good results. It's not always bad.

Even though their forms were already late, I tried my hardest to help them fill them out as soon as possible without making the situation more stressful. I was very patient with the sisters, but I also tried to help them see how difficult they were making it for me. I treated it as a learning opportunity.

What happened in the end?

Despite how frustrating the situation was, I still did my duty. I was responsible, I changed my bad feelings into a good attitude, and I helped the sisters get the work done that they needed to do. I did not quit. I did not yell at them. I was a good example to them, and I turned a bad situation into a learning opportunity.

The second success of this story is the third student who has worked hard in school and in this recent competition of his. He has won in both and sets a good example for the other students to follow.

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How have others been impacted?

When I told this story to the staff, my story was all about how frustrating it was trying to contact and find the two sisters, but now I see that my example of how I handled my frustration is an important part of the story too.

This experience also made us [the staff] want to share the importance of the students' responsibility with the other kids. We want them to realize how much they can help or hinder our work by their dedication or lack thereof. This story shows the frustration that follows if they don't fulfill their duties, but it also shows an excellent example of a diligent student, and how much of a difference that can make for all of the staff and for the students themselves.

For every success story, there is also a challenge. When working in prevention, there are so many tiny changes that need to happen to facilitate big change. We need to change attitudes: not just about the dangers of prostitution or the benefits of education, but also the millions of little decisions people make that often (knowingly or not) hinder their own progress. What Kate says here about how we don't know everything that goes on in the students' lives highlights the grace we need to continually give in remaining non-judgmental and still continually point them in better directions. We may never know the sister's motives in this situation, but perseverence in the face of intransigence is the only way to change a bad situation into a better one. Luckily for us, we have the successes too, to help push us forward when we encounter difficulty. In that sense, the relationship between students and staff goes both ways. We help them, yes. But they help us too.

 

DEC 02
05:48 AM

A Fresh Look After Five Years of Fighting Trafficking with Education

As many of you might already know, The SOLD Project began not as a full-fledged organization, but as a documentary: the vision of young artists and filmmakers who wanted to shed light on human trafficking and the dark underbelly of a bright, fantastical tourist destination steeped in the sale of human beings. Steeped in the sale of children. The founders of The SOLD Project did not know at first just how much these children would end up touching their hearts...but move and inspire them, they did, to help any way the founders could. They moved with the conviction that the surest ticket out of harm's way lay in the path of education.

It started with one scholarship to keep even just one young girl in school and off the streets. Five years later, The SOLD Project supports over 150 children in several impoverished villages and operates a Resource Center where community members feel safe, where kids can get extra help with their studies, and where awareness of the dangers of trafficking is raised. Moreover, The SOLD Project has been developing a reputation both in Thailand and in the U.S. as an organization dedicated to protecting children, one worthy of trust. We attribute our growth to our commitment to positive activism, responsible stewardship, transparency, and respect for local community and culture.

See what "Five Years" can do in the life of a child at risk.

With five years under our belt, now it's time for a fresh look! We come with our vision renewed: a new logo and, of course, the apparel to go with it!

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New to our store is a great new selection of stylish, slave-free, and super comfy garments! We've got a bunch of new items, from shirts and hoodies, to hats, water bottles, and other fashion accessories.

Check out our store now!

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The founders of The SOLD Project started out full of heart and a bold vision. Five years later, SOLD continues to give nothing but heart--and an even bolder vision. Help us continue to reach out to children at risk and give them opportunities to step out of the path of traffickers and into the bright light of hope and a renewed chance at a great future! 

NOV 13
05:52 AM

Our Students’ Ongoing Mission: to Explore Strange New Worlds

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In this post, Resource Center staff member, Nathan Ritter shares some recent experiences that have reminded him why he does what hedoes.

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Recently, I’ve been trying to broaden our students’ perspectives on life by introducing them to new fields of study or new educational activities. I have been doing this on my own and having volunteers do it as well. I thought the kids would not be that excited about these new experiences, and sometimes they aren’t. But when it all clicks and the kids love it and want more of it, I feel so good about the work I am doing with them.

I introduced them to the computer program Google Earth, and we learned about the seven continents and took tours of famous locations, including my parents’ house in Arizona. Yesterday I taught them how to read beats and rhythm in music—an activity originally created by one of our volunteers and one I felt needed to be continued. I wasn’t sure if they would get it, but they totally did. And they were smiling while learning about music. Another time, I showed them a website that offers free jigsaw puzzles to do, and now they frequently ask to do more jigsaws. One of the best examples of their growing interest in further studies happened last week when a volunteer was teaching them how to use computers responsibly. My jaw dropped to the floor when not one but several kids raised their hands with questions about the subject. They never do that! In that moment, they were demonstrating to me their ability to think critically and their growing interest in pursuing new knowledge and truth in life.

Who was the true hero of the story?

The true heroes of this story are the kids because they are growing in their mental abilities before my eyes. I see their newly-discovered passion, and it makes me passionate about sharing more with them. I see them realizing that it’s okay to hunger for more information and ask questions and take time to solve puzzles or problems.

Who or what force opposes them?

In my experience, it is not normal for Thai students at their age to problem-solve and think critically. Their educational system does not exercise those parts of their brains. They are taught NOT to ask questions but to simply accept whatever their teachers are telling them is true. In this story, the educational system is the force that opposes our students. It extinguishes their desire to learn and to discover new areas of knowledge.

How did they overcome the obstacle?

All I did was give them the opportunity to exercise that part of the brain which had been neglected. They did the rest of the work. Learning should be fun, and it is proving to be fun for the kids. They are starting to hunger for more.

Who helped the students succeed?

Our entire staff is dedicated to our students’ development on a holistic level. It takes all of us working together for success to happen.

What happened in the end?

Not only are our students experiencing new activities and doing more than just playing games all the time, but they are growing in their ability to search for truth, to question, and to think critically. That is my goal. I want these kids to learn how to pursue worthwhile truths in their lives. And I see it happening.

Who was affected?

I am very excited about how the kids are responding to these new activities. When they enjoy it, I enjoy it. When they want more, I want to give them more. I am the one being inspired to work harder to provide more opportunities like these for our students.

I don’t think the students have noticed the change in themselves yet, but I do think they are broadening their interests and exercising their mental abilities. It’s only a matter of time until they realize how much they have grown.

OCT 07
07:37 AM

End Sex Trafficking Day

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Erin Giles is founder of a movement to help raise awareness about the crime and tragedy of sex trafficking and is partnering with various entrepreneurs and social influencers to spread the word and provide support for organizations that are working against sex trafficking—organizations that include The SOLD Project.

The campaign has set a goal to raise $25,000 by October 25, 2013, and funds will go to The SOLD Project as well as a handful of other worthy nonprofits.

Check out the campaign over here where you can watch the short video to learn more. Donate today and spread the word (and get some fun perks too)! Even if you can’t spare any dollars, you can help by sharing the message.

Be A Key To Freedom.

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SEP 30
04:58 AM

A Global Counter Child Trafficking Conference—ONLINE!

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On October 16-18, join in on the FIRST EVER global online conference dedicated to issues surrounding child trafficking. Hosted by Touchpoint Child Protection, the UK’s Counter Human Trafficking Bureau, and Love146 Europe, this event is an attempt to bring together the global community fighting to end child exploitation.

Representatives from the business, healthcare, government, law enforcement, and not-for-profit sectors will gather together to share their experience and expertise. Speakers include:

Luis C. deBaca, US Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons

Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, especially women and children

Maria Grazia Giammarinero, Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)

Dr. Myria Vassiliadou, Anti-trafficking Coordinator, European Commission, DG Home-Affairs

Grace Akallo, Former Child Soldier and Founder of United Africans for Women and Children Rights

Rosi Orozco, Human Rights Activist from Mexico

Ruchira Gupta, founder of Apne Aap Women Worldwide (India)

Rachel Lloyd, CEO of Girls Educational and Mentoring Services (GEMS) in New York

Dr. Gundelina Velazco, Director of Love146 Asia Aftercare based in the Philippines

Representatives from Polaris, ECPAT, Unicef, and International Justice Mission will also be there.

The best part?? The conference is completely FREE! Register online, and you’ll be given directions on how to participate in the various webinar sessions of your choice, held over the three days—right from the comfort of your own computer.

If you’re passionate about bringing an end to child exploitation and care to hear more about the experience of and lessons learned by those working on the front lines, here is your opportunity. Don’t miss it!

Follow this link here to the Global Online Counter Child Trafficking Conference to find out more and to register.

SEP 23
06:14 AM

Our Second Classroom Needs Your Help!

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We’ve broken ground on a second classroom, and the progress made is exciting…but we still need your help!

Due to a substantial (30%) increase in Thailand’s minimum wage earlier this year, which we proudly support, the cost of labor and materials has gone up considerably. We would just like to remind our supporters that Global Giving is hosting its first-ever Fundraiser Campaign through the month of September. You still have time to join in! Raise $500 from 10 people to qualify for prizes (like airline tickets)—and you can help our kids in the process.

Click here to start your fundraiser now!

Or go to our page on Global Giving to donate!

Many thank yous to our loyal supporters for your gracious generosity--we can only do what we do because of you!

SEP 20
07:53 PM

Mark and Cathy Zoradi Receive the FREEDOM Award

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Congratulations to Mark and Cathy Zoradi, this year's recipients of The FREEDOM Award. The FREEDOM Award is granted to a yearly recipient that exemplifies above and beyond support for The SOLD Project. Mark and Cathy have been supporters of The SOLD Project since it's founding five years ago. Mark, former president of Walt Disney Motion pictures, first met Rachel Sparks and Rachel Goble when the co-founders sought out his advice and support for their original documentary: The SOLD Project Thailand. It was then that Mark and Cathy generously offered the Walt Disney Burbank Studio's for the premiere of the film - curating a space for filmmakers and humanitarians alike to see the hope that exists in prevention. 

Over the last five years, Mark and Cathy have shown the qualities that SOLD looks for in granting this award. From their personal character to their passion for justice, they have been extremely generous while always giving in a spirit of deep humility. We honor the Zoradi's for their commitment to children's rights, their support to ensure these stories of hope are made available, and their dedication to ensuring that The SOLD Project's mission is at the highest quality possible. 

Thank you, Mark and Cathy, for believing that prevention is possible and for participating in our efforts. 

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Photo courtesy of Sarah Shreves Photography. September 17th, 2013 at SoHo House for the 'Five Years' Film Premiere in West Hollywood. 

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For more information on how to get involved and financially support our work, please join our Stand 4 FREEDOM Program. We believe that when a large group of people come together with small amounts of resources, huge change can happen. The Stand 4 FREEDOM program asks individuals to pledge $4/week. 100% of donations go straight towards our prevention programs. 

Stand For Freedom // GIVE NOW

SEP 16
07:37 AM

In Trouble

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We work with kids who are at-risk. We are aware of the risks and challenges they face every single day. We see many close calls. We see families confronting impossible decisions. We see children who must exhibit the fortitude of people many times their age. This is the job. For the most part, The SOLD Project operates in service of children and families who would make different choices if they only were given the chance and we try to offer that chance.

But, what happens when a child is given every possible opportunity, and despite all your best efforts, you are left to watch as the sweet, innocent child transforms before your very eyes, and despite all her amazing potential, makes her slow descent into the bar life? Where do you draw the line? Do you chase after her and lock her up in safety “for her own good”? Do reach a point where you let go?

One of our students is in just such a situation. Two years ago, at the age of twelve, she was the very picture of innocence: happy-go-lucky, with plenty of friends, and though life wasn’t easy, she had a family who cared for her. But then she started dressing more provocatively. She turned teenager and began pushing boundaries. She got into trouble at school—sometimes the result of poor decisions on her part; sometimes she faced outright abuse at the hands of a teacher. Then (considerably older) boyfriends started showing up and she began experimenting with sex and more problems ensued. (Much like in the U.S., by Thai law, sex with a minor is considered rape.) All along the way, we’ve had regular, serious talks with her, with her mother and sister, and with her friends, trying every avenue we could imagine to understand why she continued to make such poor decisions and to try to stop her from continuing on this path before it was too late.

Then, a few weeks ago, we found her dressed like a prostitute, working at a karaoke bar. She is fourteen years old. It was her first night there, and luckily our staff were able to intervene before anything happened. There was a lot of high drama with the bar’s mama-san, as one can imagine—and a lot of hurtful words of between our student and her mother, whom our student scorned for being a former prostitute. Our staff were able to help defuse the situation and get her home safely. But then someone unknown to our stuff picked her up late at night and she ran away again. Again, SOLD staff intervened and brought her home. When she ran away a third time, we decided she needed to be taken out of the situation and away from the boyfriends and mama-san who were isolating her from family and friends and luring her into the sex industry. We moved her to a different city, where she is now staying with a trusted family and we’re working with counselors see if we can still reach her and turn things around.

The situation goes to show just how compelling the lure of the sex industry is for these kids—that even if they do have a chance to stay in school, the inducements of the industry and the determination of the people working it to prey on children are stronger than those of us who’ve never personally experienced it can imagine.

We asked our student, “If you could change anything, what would you want to change?” She said she wouldn't want to have her first boyfriend because she had sex with him, and then she felt like after that it was just downhill. We think this is telling of her frame of mind, her sense of self-worth, and perhaps even her sense of the inevitability of the path she is on, though we do think it’s only the surface of what is going on with her and that there are a lot of factors contributing to the choices she has made.

However, it’s not just about her either. She is from a small village and the community is privy to what happens to one of its own. We can give her chance after chance, opportunity after opportunity, and hope that by being continually supportive (both financially and emotionally) we can encourage her to come back home to us. But then, what message does it send to her peers? How fair is that, given limited resources, to another student who needs the support just as much (or more) and who makes the choice to stay in school and do well for herself? What message does it send about the number of times it’s safe to mess up and keep messing up and expect to still receive a scholarship? Her needs are great, but they must be weighed against the needs of 140+ other kids who are all watching this unfold as well.

These are tough questions we all face in this battle to keep kids safe from those who would prey on them. But this situation has only shown us how important it is that we don’t shy away from them, even when things get difficult. Especially when things get difficult—because her life is at stake, as are the lives of her peers. We can’t give up, and we don’t let go. These kids, nameless on our blog posts for the sake of privacy, are not nameless to us. We’ve lived with them day in and day out for years, we see them for the beautiful souls they are, and we love them like our own. It’s tempting to try to point the fingers of blame, but in situations like this, you quickly need more fingers than you have on your hands. We can only continue to try to rise to the challenge, and we can continue to have hope that we haven’t lost her yet.

SEP 02
11:44 PM

An Extraordinary Instance of Giving

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Supporters of The SOLD Project, Michelle Auerbach and her fiance Brian Brooks, are going above and beyond acts of daily generosityby donating their wedding to The SOLD Project! In this post, we'llfind out what that means and see just how they did it.

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Michelle and Brian, thank you so much for your incredible kindness and willingness to share your special day with us! We'd love to tell everyone about what you're doing. What does it mean that you're donating your wedding? Can you explain exactly what you're doing?

We are donating our wedding to SOLD by asking that no one give us presents, but that they donate to SOLD in honor of our wedding instead.  

Here is how we did it: It was in the save the date info with a link to a page that SOLD set up for us, and then it was in the invitation.  I am planning on sending out more information to the people who are coming and I will include the link again and a little pep talk and instructions on how to donate again.  

We are really hoping that everyone does it, and no one gives us gifts, because it means a lot to us to give as much as we can to SOLD's mission of education and prevention. We both have talked to Rachel Goble a lot, seen all the SOLD videos, and the integrity and deep knowledge that the project displays is exactly what the world needs.  

The world does not need one more set of wedding china, nor does it need any more cut crystal vases or place settings. We wanted to give the world something big - compassion, care, interest, possibility. Isn't that what weddings are about? 

It is indeed! How did you get the idea to do this?

We've been donors of time and money to SOLD for a few years. If we had the means, we would be giving huge sums of money and this was a chance to do just that. Plus, we secretly hope that our friends and family will get hooked and become supporters on their own. 

When is your wedding date?

We're getting married on October 5th 2013.

How have people responded to your decision to donate your wedding? Has it, thus far, impacted you in any way that might have surprised you?

People are thrilled to take care of the wedding present problem with one click and not to have to worry about it anymore. I was surprised that even after we sent out the save the date before the invitations went out, people were donating.

It's clear your family and friends are all equally as generous as you. Is there anything you'd like to add or be sure others know too?

Tell people who are thinking of donating an event (wedding, birthday bar mitzvah, or high school graduation) that it is so easy for the people you ask to do it that they love you even more for making them not go to a store, look up your list, and figure out what's the right level of gift.  In fact, they feel good about you and about themselves because giving to a great cause makes everyone feel good.

Many thanks again to the family and friends of Michelle and Brian--and congratulations to the happy couple! Many best wishes for the years to come!

Wedding Invites

JUL 29
12:15 AM

Meet Khae!

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The SOLD Project family is growing! Today, we’d like you to meet one last addition to our family. Nongnut Jamparat, who goes by the nickname Khae, has recently joined our Resource Center staff as Community Development Manager.  

Khae

 

Nongnut Jamparat, whose nickname is Khae, graduated with a degree in Social Science (Social Development). Originally from Naan Province, Khae joined The SOLD Project team, wanting to be a part of an organization that agrees with her belief that everyone is equal––that they all have worth as human beings and deserve the same dignity, respect, and value.

People in villages are often taken advantage of by other parts of society. Poverty may cause the family to split or to do whatever it takes to provide for their family. Khae believes these circumstances put children at risk in today's society. She wants to be a part of an opportunity to create understanding and knowledge for the villagers and youth who are at risk, to show them God's love, which she wants to share with the people in the community. She wants to see the villagers have a better quality of life by realizing their own potential to sustain their community without relying solely on outside resources. The SOLD Project's vision and goals to help develop society are in line with her dream so she wants to be a part of this work.

She now assists with home visits, keeping track of our students' individual situations and needs, helping to mentor and guide them and help their families where she can. In just a few short months, she has already proved herself to be an invaluable asset to our team.

When asked what dreams she holds for the kids at SOLD, she said:

"I want to see each of our kids graduate with a bachelor’s degree or above.  I wish for  each of the kids to be completely safe from trafficking as well as safe and healthy physically and mentally. And I want to see each kid’s family taking the best care of them at home."

JUL 25
12:56 AM

Meet Nathan!

Blog -category -title _our -staffThe SOLD Project family is growing! Over the next couple weeks, we’ll continue introducing you to the newest additions to our family. Today, we’d like you to meet Nathan Ritter, who has recently joined our Resource Center staff as Volunteer Coordinator and Program Director.

Nathan -picNathan moved to Thailand in 2009 and has never looked back. He hopes to live here forever. He is a fun guy who loves playing all kinds of different games. He likes adventure and doing creative activities, and he enjoys being with people, especially with children because they don’t easily forget how to have simple fun and pleasure in life.

Nathan hopes to use his talents and passion for Thailand to put smiles on people’s faces and joy in their hearts, as well as help them see what true life is all about. He has a beautiful wife named Nueng who is just as fun-loving as he is. And they have three cats named after food because…why not?

Nathan wants to serve God well and make a valuable contribution in the lives of the kids at The SOLD Project and in the lives of their families as well as in the whole community.

When asked what dream he has for the kids at SOLD, he responds:

"I want each and every kid at SOLD to be able to look back on these development years as children and young adults with happiness and fond memories.  I want them to truly have all the info and education they need to make competent decisions during these crucial years of life in order to propel them into a healthy adulthood lifestyle.

If I may dream even more, I want them to know--truly know deep in their hearts--that there are people who love them and care for them; who think that they are special and have great worth.  And from that knowing, I want them to feel that way about themselves as well. I want them to have the confidence and self-respect that they need to go forth into adulthood and make a positive difference in this world for themselves, their families, and their communities."

 

JUL 22
01:50 PM

'The Rachel' Necklace

Ember Arts is a business partnering with 28 Ugandan women survivors of war and poverty to assist them in fulfilling their dreams for themselves and their families. The women handmake all of Ember Arts' jewelry pieces from recycled paper. These women are then able to use the money to achieve things like educating their children or starting their own businesses.

This month, SOLD's own Rachel Goble has been selected as one of Ember Art's heroes, women they recognize for chasing their own dreams to make the world a better place. Ember Arts is featuring SOLD this month and 50% of proceeds from their online sales will be helping to fund our prevention programs in Thailand.

We're excited to announce that Ember Arts has created a special piece called 'The Rachel,' that beautifully symbolizes the work of SOLD. The necklace has 140 beads, which symbolize the 140 students we are currently sponsoring. The beads are made from two kinds of recycled paper: black paper and vintage books. The piece starts with the dark beads in the back, which symbolize the danger of a world where trafficking exists, and then progresses towards four pillars of the lighter, vintage book beads to symbolize the hopeful story SOLD is providing through education. The four sections of story beads represent the four pillars of our work: Education, Mentorships, Resources, and Awareness. 

You can see the necklace, as well as explore the story of Ember Arts and the women they work with, here. We are so thankful for the opportunity to partner with Ember Arts in the quest to provide opportunity and help women achieve dreams for a better life.

The Rachel Promo 300X451

JUL 09
12:37 AM

Launching "Travel With Us"

The SOLD Project is proud to announce the launch of one of two brand new videos (the second one, a longer piece, will be released in September), in celebration of our 5 year anniversary!

“Travel With Us” is a visual poem told through a compilation of documentary footage captured in urban and rural Thailand by The SOLD Project team in order to raise awareness for our work to harness the power of education and mentorship to prevent at-risk children from falling prey to the lures of prostitution and sexual servitude.

Along with the video, we are offering the sale of limited edition prints. Your purchase of a signed and numbered FREEDOM Series print helps us in breaking the cycle of victimization for good—one child, one family, one community at a time. Our hope is that these visuals act as a constant reminder of the potential for individuals to have an impact greater than themselves.

Will you join us? Help us and become a part of the movement to end the exploitation of children.

HERE'S WHAT WE'RE ASKING FROM OUR SUPPORTERS:

If you believe in what The SOLD Project does, please

- BUY A PRINT, available at our shop: http://thesoldproject.storenvy.com/ (All proceeds go directly to funding SOLD's prevention programs.)

AND

- SHARE THIS VIDEO and our mission with at least 10 other people (via email, on Facebook, Twitter, your blog, etc.)

Change is coming. The earth shifts and we are moving with it, forging a destiny of freedom. Walk the path with us. Join the movement to end slavery.

Because none of us travels alone.

JUL 05
11:23 PM

Ember Arts Recognizes Our Rachel Goble

Our Staff

Ember Arts, a family business oriented towards humanitarian aid, creates and sells beautiful, tasteful jewelry, like this piece, to support women in Uganda. Ember Arts has partnered with 28 Ugandan women, all survivors of war and poverty, who handmake every piece of their jewelry from recycled paper. The women use the money they earn from these sales to pursue dreams of educating their children, building homes, or starting their own businesses. It's no stretch to say that this kind of opportunity and endeavor brings benefits to their families and to their communities.

Twice a year, Ember Arts selects a new woman hero, a woman they recognize for making great strides in helping to make the world a better place. This month, they have selected The SOLD Project's Rachel Goble as their hero.

CLICK HERE TO READ THEIR FABULOUS ARTICLE ON RACHEL!

What's more, for the month of July, they will donate 50% of all sales from their online store to support the work we do here at SOLD.

So read the article, check out their beautiful products, and know that your purchase this month can go towards helping both women in Uganda and the children in northern Thailand!

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Congratulations, Rachel!! And many, many thanks to the fantastic team at Ember Arts!

JUN 30
11:14 PM

Meet Kate!

Our Staff

The SOLD Project family is growing! Over the next few weeks, we’ll continue introducing you to the newest additions to our family. Today, we’d like you to meet Ketsara (Kate) Thutsunti, who has recently joined our Resource Center staff as Prevention Program Manager.

KateKetsara's previous work experience at the Office of Child Protective Services in Thailand felt like a natural transition to her work here at The SOLD Project. Kate first connected with The SOLD Project through the prevention and awareness program, where she had previously led seminars on protecting children living in abusive situations. "Because I have a strong desire to work in the area of child protective services, working with The SOLD Project seems like an opportunity put into place by God--by His perfect plan."

Kate feels that it is important to focus on antitrafficking issues as an avenue to prevent further abuse and mistreatment of children. In her own words, "Any organization that can help protect children in abusive situations is very valuable. Through my own experience, those who work to protect children in unsafe situations and fight to give them a new and better life are also blessed with the peace of God." Kate views the work that The SOLD Project is doing in Thailand as vital to protecting children already in abusive situations as well as in preventative work. She sees the importance of working directly in the community and getting to know SOLD students individually in order to recognize what struggles they are each facing.

"For many students," says Kate, "they end up living in unsafe situations because they can no longer continue on in their education due to a lack of financial support. Providing scholarships for these students to study is one simple solution for protecting these students from walking down dangerous paths."

When asked why she wants to work with SOLD in preventing human trafficking, she said:

"[I want] to work in child protective services by focusing on anti-trafficking issues as a way to prevent the further abuse and mistreatment of women and children. Organizations such as The SOLD Project are few and far between and necessary in combating the issues of child trafficking in Thailand. Any organization that can help protect children in abusive situations is very valuable. Through my own experience, those who work to protect children in unsafe situations and fight to give them a new and better life are also blessed with the peace of God.

I see the work of The SOLD Project as vital to protecting children living in abusive situations. When given the opportunity to work directly in the community it is easy to see many problems that young people experience, especially in regards to education. For many students, they end up living in unsafe situations because they can no longer continue on in their education due to a lack of financial support. Providing scholarships for these students to study is one simple solution for protecting these students from walking down dangerous paths. If we are going to help care for children at risk, the best way to do so is holistically--which is the mission of The SOLD Project."

Kate2

I desire for all of the kids to be aware of the unexpected dangers that face them as children.  I want them to study hard and have responsibility in their community according to what is expected at their age. Moreover, I want them to respect themselves and others and truly understand the value of life so that they can take care of themselves and protect themselves against any danger that may appear.
--Kate

We are lucky to have such a talented, committed, and experienced member on our staff! We'd also like to extend a special thank you to One Day's Wages for hosting a matching gift campaign that allowed us to fundraise $5,000 to host two family camps/awareness campaigns (one in 2013 and one in 2014)--events which introduced us to Kate's hard work and skill in handling issues of child protection.

JUN 26
03:28 AM

Meet Bobby Bailey

Our Staff The SOLD Project family is growing! Over the next several weeks, we’ll be introducing you to the newest additions to our family. Today, we’d like you to meet Bobby Bailey, who has recently joined our Board of Directors. BBB_IMG_5009 Bobby Bailey is no stranger to the world of aid work. A talented filmmaker and photographer, he co-founded Invisible Children (IC), which you might remember produced a video that went viral, drawing worldwide attention, in 2012, to the abuses of Kony and the LRA in Uganda. In co-founding the not-for-profit Invisible Children, Bailey sought to create an ideological shift of engagement for millennials in the west and tangible transformation for children in East Africa. He hinged his vision on inspiring gen. y through media, campaigns, and events to positively shift both their influence and purpose towards the greater world.  Bobby went on to co-found the USA GLOBAL POVERTY PROJECT, which seeks to acquire funds from governments and large foundations to fulfill the Millennium Development Goals.  In traveling to Thailand with The SOLD Project, Bobby fell in love with the people and the mission of the organization. He realized how valuable prevention is to protecting innocence and shaping lives, and he is overjoyed to join SOLD's board and work together for the protection of vulnerable people. 
"Having Bobby on the Board will bring a wealth of experience, insight, and energy. Bobby has a passion for helping children and he's proven he'll take chances to bring positive change to the world. We are honored to have him join SOLD." - Roy Goble, Chairman
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JUN 16
11:01 PM

Meet Cameron!

Our Staff The SOLD Project family is growing! Over the next several weeks, we'll be introducing you to the newest additions to our family. Today, we'd like you to meet Cameron Welborn-Wilson, who has recently joined our Board of Directors. IMG_0583Cameron Welborn-Wilson is a former complex business litigation attorney and now has her own legal practice advising entrepreneurial companies on both legal and business affairs. Born with a passion for advocacy, in college she volunteered as Arizona’s youngest Court Appointed Special Advocate “CASA,” representing the interests of abused and neglected children as well as volunteering for “Parents Anonymous” an organization focused on preventing child abuse and neglect.  In addition, she interned for the Tucson District Attorney’s office with a focus on cases of abuse against women and children.  When Cameron was a student at Emory University School of Law she volunteered as a first year student at the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation, served as President of the Emory Public Interest Committee and led a movement to update Georgia’s antiquated rape laws.   In 1999, her community work earned her the highest honor bestowed by Emory University, the Marion Luther Brittain Award. Cameron’s commitment to advocacy has remained consistent throughout her education and career.  While practicing law at a large law firm she was on the Founding Advisory Board of CoachArt (www.coachart.org) and was a co-founder of Stop The Abuse Against Families Foundation.  In 2008 she was living in New York City and began educating herself on the issue of human trafficking.  At that time, SOLD Founder Rachel Sparks-Graeser was in town speaking at a NYC Hedge Fund where Cameron was in attendance.   Following Rachel’s presentation, the two women began a conversation that led to Cameron joining the Advisory Board of SOLD. Cameron formally joined SOLD’s Board of Directors this year.
"Cameron has demonstrated a devotion to SOLD for years. Her legal expertise and critical thinking are going to add tremendous value to the Board. I look forward to working with her to build the prevention programs that can help vulnerable children." - Roy Goble, Chairman
Cameron currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband, daughter, Golden Retriever, and Himalayan cat. Welcome to our team, Cameron!
JUN 12
12:00 AM

Students in Need of Sponsors!

Get Involved
imaginary friends project

We're in the business of opening doors. We provide a little helping hand in situations where sometimes all a child needs is for someone to look their way and say, "I see you." Children who, if given even just the slightest sliver of hope, will jump at the opportunity to thrive. We provide scholarships for students whose means are so limited that even $1 a day is enough to keep them from an education. Believing in the power of education and strong mentorship as we do, we want to keep them in school, every day. If you've been following our blog, you can see how we not only touch individual lives, we help benefits spiral outward to the community as well. As has been repeatedly demonstrated, women and children are critical components of a well-functioning society and investing in them helps stabilize and grow communities as well as nations. This is the message we send. You can be a part of that too.

Right now, we have 13 students in need of sponsorship:

At the University level ($55/month) - we have 6 students
High School ($45/month) - 2 students
Primary/Vocational ($31/month) -  5 students

Please know, absolutely 100% of each sponsorship donation goes directly into that individual child's education fund. No fees, no deductions for staff overhead. We raise that money separately.

If you'd like to help us turn opportunities into reality for a child in need,


We've made big headlines this year, not the least of which includes gaining the support of The Girl Effect/The Nike Foundation. But we couldn't do any of what we do without your help! We need YOU to help make this all happen.

Help us bring an end to child trafficking, one educated child at a time.

girleffect_SOLD
JUN 09
10:44 PM

Global Giving is Matching Your Funds!

Get Involved On Wednesday, June 12 (just TWO days from now!), Global Giving will generously match EVERY gift you make to The SOLD Project at 50 percent! If you ever wanted a way to make your donation stretch, here's how. For all donations made this Wednesday, a $20 contribution becomes a $30 contribution. $50 becomes $75. $1,000 becomes $1,500!! It's a one-day only event, so be sure to mark your calendar! Matching begins at 9 a.m. EDT and continues until funds run out. Thank you so much for your continued support! It means the world to us that you believe in our mission as much as we do. Every dollar makes a difference in providing these young children with education, mentorship, and guidance. We're bringing about change, not only in their lives, but in the prospects of an entire community, and we could not do it without you! Let's continue to keep hope and freedom alive! Join us Wednesday and watch the contributions grow! _TMK2534  
JUN 03
11:47 AM

A Path Begins Anew

From the Field _TMK6277 At first glance, Nong Jeab* might come across as a quiet teenager, a little rough around the edges, but given a bit of time, one quickly sees she's not quiet at all. She observes carefully, thoughtful about the world around her, and she's quick to make a sharp quip or jest, getting those around her to laugh easily. When we first met Nong Jeab, about 5 years ago, she was on the verge of dropping out of school. Her parents had died of HIV; her mother had been a prostitute. With only a step-grandfather, an uncle, and a half-brother to claim as family, she had very little guidance and very few people to watch out for her needs. The resources she could draw on for support in crisis were few, and as it turns out, insufficient when one of the teachers at her school began to physically abuse her. At this time, The SOLD Project was only just starting to get off the ground, and by the time we were able to start getting scholarship money for students, she had already left school and followed her boyfriend on to Chiang Mai, Bangkok, and we're unsure where else. She was an example of one we could not reach in time. We didn't hear from her for over two years. When she came back home, she admitted that she had learned that the path of life she had chosen in the big cities was much harder than she had imagined it would be, and she had come to realize how critical education was to gaining any kind of a foothold in the world. Her contrition was more than just talk. Of her own volition, she started going to informal schooling provided by one of the local temples. When The SOLD Project saw her commitment and demonstration of personal responsibility, we offered her an internship at SOLD, where she could be an aide to one of our managers, learn some job skills, and help take care of the Resource Center. It was at this point that the circumstances of her leaving school (namely, the abuse) started to come to light, and slowly, we're starting to hear a little bit about where she had been and what she had gone through when she was away. It seems the woman in the city who is trying to recruit some of our other students may have been involved in trafficking her, though we don't know this for certain. Nong Jeab still remains quiet about that time, letting us know only that it was difficult. Perhaps as our relationship of trust with her continues to develop, we hope she might open up even more. In the meantime, when we saw that her desire to learn had not wavered, we began again to encourage her to go back to high school and to help her get a scholarship. Last month, we were able to get her back into a formal high school, starting in grade 10, with our Thailand Director, Tawee Donchai and his wife, Beth, helping to serve as guardians vis a vis anything related to her schooling. She is getting tutoring as well, as she needs help getting up to speed with the rest of her class, but all signs suggest that she is really getting a fresh start, and that she is taking advantage of every bit of it. Sometimes a second chance is all it takes. *Name has been changed to protect privacy.
MAY 09
04:45 PM

Mark Your Calendars: Your Gift Can Be Doubled!

We're excited to announce next week's matching gift campaign with One Day’s Wages (ODW); a grassroots movement of people, stories, and actions to alleviate extreme global poverty. ODW promotes awareness, invites simple giving, and supports sustainable relief through partnerships, especially with smaller organizations in developing regions. Beginning Monday, May 13th at 9:00AM P.S.T we will be raising funds for The SOLD Project's Family Camps and Anti-Trafficking Awareness Programs. All donations will be matched up to $2,500.00. THE CAMP The two-day camp offers parents and their children (primarily teens) the unique opportunity to discuss points of conflict and collaborate together on solutions in a supportive environment. Through culturally relevant group activities, families are offered a structured place to intentionally connect with each other for, as many past participants noted, the very first time. Parents and children work together on communicating expectations and responding to conflict in the Positive Discipline session. Speakers teach on how our behavior affects others and the negative side effects of physical punishment. In the Breaking and Healing session, the pattern of family violence and its seemingly endless cycle are explored. Both parents and children are given the opportunity to discuss their family’s history, explore what forgiveness may look like in their own homes, and brainstorm how they can each help “step outside the cycle” of generational violence. As ironic as it may seem in the sex capital of the world, sexuality is not discussed in a Thai family structure, leaving children vulnerable in their lack of understanding about their bodies and how to respond to touches from others that make them uncomfortable. The consequences of little to no education in this area has disastrous, lifelong consequences in Thailand when a lack of education and a need for income is coupled with “opportunity” in the nearest city’s Red Light District. The camp’s anti-trafficking portion discusses “body safety” with the children. From song-and-dance to role-playing how to respond to uncomfortable scenarios to drawing body maps, the children are equipped with an understanding about the individual rights they have. We'll be holding two camps (one in October 2013 and another in January 2014), each of which costs $2,500.00. Our hope is that at the end of this campaign we are able to cover the cost for both of these camps. OUR ASK Between Monday, May 13th and Saturday, May 18th we're asking you to donate one day's worth of your wages. That amount will then be doubled, up to $2,500.00. 100% of your donation will be used towards Trafficking Awareness Family Camp. Just one day's worth of your wages will fund the awareness of a child at-risk. So please, plan ahead to give. And stay tuned - more information on HOW will go live on Monday morning.  https://vimeo.com/11443743
MAY 06
12:44 AM

Teenagers Re:Act and Take a Stand

Re:ACT Story Older generations like to bemoan younger generations for not being aware and not being involved, but we at The SOLD Project would like to show you that this isn't always the case! We'd like to introduce you to some high schoolers who have taken it upon themselves to not only become informed about social issues, but to also form a club in which they raise funds and take time to educate their peers about the issues as well. The Girl Effect club, as they have dubbed themselves, recently became supporters of The SOLD Project. They are awesome and we are honored to have them in our corner. We hope you'll enjoy getting to know them as well! We've asked them to share a little about themselves, and here is what they've said: What is the "Girl Effect" club? What are your missions and aims, and what are some things you do? The Girl Effect Club is relatively new, only a few months old but it started when my friend [Rachel Ketola] and I [Kendall DeVries] noticed that there was a problem with the way that women are viewed around the world. The Girl Effect is an established movement that aims to leverage the potential of teen girls to change their social and economic dynamics by providing them with real, powerful and relevant resources. Rachel and I were very inspired by the movement and founded a club at our own high school to not only support women in developing countries, but to positively impact our peers. There is little acknowledgement of gender issues in our generation and we find many of our friends blatantly accepting degradation. We also wanted to bring more awareness of prostitution, oppression in foreign countries, and the importance of education for girls around the world. Our mission for the Girl Effect club is to educate our school and community about women's issues locally, nationally and globally. We have weekly meetings to discuss these issues and start each meeting with a TED Talk (they are awesome!!) oriented around women's issues. By having both girls and boys in the club, we challenge common ideas about sexuality together and work to advocate empowerment for all. The ultimate mission is to shift people's consciousness, inspire individual and community action, and ultimately, transform culture so everyone, regardless of gender, can fulfill their potential. We also educate our community by holding movie nights. The first movie our club showed was called Miss Representation. We had a great turn out and plan to show a documentary called Rape for Profit at the beginning of June to raise more money for the SOLD project! Kendall 2 How did you find out about The SOLD Project? What prompted you to get involved in fundraising for The SOLD Project? How was the money raised (and approximately how much)? We found out about the SOLD Project the old fashioned way, by searching the Internet! We just wanted a small nonprofit that we knew would use the funds to benefit the cause, and your site and cause appealed to us! 

It was part of our initial plan to put together a fundraiser to benefit girl’s issues, and when we found you, we came up with our fundraising plan and went with it! We sold different color elastic hair bands. The school absolutely loved them, our slogan was "Educate a girl, Change her world, Buy a hair tie". We sold for about two weeks, and raised about $160, I know it isn't much, but we intend to fundraise more! What are some specific things, if any, you'd like to see the money go towards, and how do you see it aligning with your club's broader aims? I asked the club members, and they all agreed that it would be cool if the money went to girl's education, but really anything that benefits the kids would be just fine to us as well! Thank you so much for giving us this opportunity to help!

 I am very passionate about this subject and other social issues.

APR 29
03:13 AM

Breaking Ground!

From the Field SOLD_breaking ground Thanks to the overwhelming contributions of our fabulous supporters, we've been able to break ground on a second building at The SOLD Project Resource Center!! This has been a dream of ours for a long time now, and finally, it is becoming reality. In this new building, we will have: - two new classrooms (including a computer lab) - a meeting/counseling room, to conduct meetings with the kids' families & other visitors - office space - storage - small kitchen/cafe area With this new building, it frees up space in the original building, where the downstairs area will be converted to a library space. SOLD_building Exciting stuff!! We can't wait to show you what it looks like when it's finished! Thank you again to all our fantastic friends and donors. This would not be possible without each and every one of you and your support!
APR 22
11:02 PM

Girl Effect Headlines

News Article girleffect_SOLD The SOLD Project has made it onto Girl Effect Headlines! The Nike Foundation's philanthropic site, The Girl Effect, frequently highlights organizations that are doing groundwork to help empower girls and raise up entire communities. We've just been featured! You can check out the article here:

HOW EDUCATION IS DEFEATING THAI SEX TRAFFICKING

and then, please, spread the word!!

APR 08
06:12 AM

Special Feature: Sarah Desatnick, Youth Activist

Re:ACT Story We at The SOLD Project are always inspired when young people take initiative and find ways to use the resources they have to make a difference. Sarah Desatnick is one such impassioned individual. As a Girl Scout, Desatnick is driven to demonstrate her leadership abilities and desires to work in ways to help uplift local communities. She has chosen The SOLD Project as part of her aim in this endeavor. I'll let her tell you, in her own words, why. From Sarah: ry=400-29Living in the town of Basking Ridge New Jersey, where everyone has comfortable houses and plenty of food, it made my heart break hearing about these beautiful children in Thailand who have nothing.  I did not, however, want to just sit here and feel sympathetic.  I wanted to help them receive an education and achieve their goals. I wanted to be able to say I helped make a difference in someone's life. The fact that one organization, the SOLD Project, can make such a great impact on one community is unbelievable.  I want to be able to make that type of difference helping one child at a time.  Plus, getting to work with such role models as Rachel Goble is just the cherry on top. My older brother, who is currently 21 years old, has a very severe disability.  This certain disability impacts his ability to walk and talk, and he been in and out of the hospital his whole life.  He goes to a special school that is a Hospital and Education facility. He has the support of our family and the help from the nurses and doctors.   It does not seem fair that we can provide my brother the help he needs while these healthy children in Thailand do not have the help and support to even get an education themselves. I want to help change that.  I want those kids to reach for the stars and follow their dreams. Each pencil, backpack, or notebook I collect is one more step to giving a child a better education.  With all the supplies that are donated, I will package them into the backpacks.  Each child’s backpack will include pencils, notebooks, pens, and binders.  My goal is to help as many of the children in these villages as I can.   The SOLD Project, with help from others, is making a tremendous difference.   I want to do all I can to support the SOLD Project and the great work they are doing. :: Sarah, your work is invaluable and it is inspiring to see a young person such as you get involved in helping to improve the lives of our fellow human beings. Thank you!
APR 01
04:04 AM

A New Kind of Workshop

From the Field _TMK2759-2 When Zoey, one of our volunteers, mentioned last July how quickly the kids participated in her activities, it first caught my attention. As the year progressed, I began to see more and more how lively and free the kids were becoming, but it wasn’t until the Christmas party--when a quiet 17-year-old sang two songs in English by herself in front of a crowd of 200 people, and a 15-year-old with an obvious medical condition led several dances front and center, and when a young boy whose parents often let him know how little they care made friends with all the Singaporeans--that it struck me how much the kids have grown in confidence in the past two years. Where they were two years ago is like night & day compared to where they are now. When I first started teaching at SOLD, I had all kinds of academic goals for the kids (based on ideas born of my own experience growing up in the U.S. and the requirements for success we tell our young, middle class, educated kids). Those plans quickly fell apart when I realized some of the basics I had taken for granted in my sheltered life were not so basic for these kids. Like the courage to try. Even an activity as basic as coloring was daunting to many of these kids who were terrified of doing anything, for fear of doing it wrong. I started to realize that before I could teach them that holy grail of "critical thinking" I had to teach them something more basic: to believe in themselves. To believe they are worthwhile and that they can do things worthwhile. I have a theory, you see. I have a theory that in order to teach them life skills, I need to first teach them that, as human beings, they are worth having skills. Because why do we teach "critical thinking" in the first place, if not so kids can use that skill of analysis to protect themselves later in life? So that when a politician sells them an unbelievable story, they'll have better instincts. So that when a trafficker comes to call, they'll know this person is not their friend. We can't tell them what to say and do in every situation life will confront them with. But we can arm them enough to be careful where they place their trust and to learn to ask questions, instead of following blindly. We teach it to help them protect themselves - but first they must believe they are worth protecting. Last year went a long way towards building their confidence. This year, I'm continuing with that theme in their education this year, teaching them life skills that might be useful, but that also helps them see their self-worth and value as individuals and human beings, with the hope that if they learn to value themselves, they will be less likely to let themselves get into trouble. We'll cover things like: how to maintain body health & hygiene, how to cultivate healthy relationships (both with family and significant others), healthy and honest ways to manage conflict in a relationship, and even one for our boys on what it means to be a man. But before we begin with such heady topics, we started with one on self-esteem. We started with a trust exercise – you know the one where people pair up and you have to let yourself fall backward and trust the other person will catch you? We did that one. The kids were giggling and having a ton of fun, but it was challenging too, and it was obvious who had a harder time trusting. We had them take note of what went through their heads: how it seemed hard or impossible at first, but they had to control their fear, and once they did, they could do it. We said that’s like any challenge in life: your brain might tell you that you can’t, but if you can control your thoughts, you’ll find all kinds of things you can do. But just like how you had to trust the person behind you, you have to create a relationship of trust with yourself, to know that you can do it. I think they got the picture, and the trust exercise seemed to be a good way to show them viscerally what we were talking about. We made lists of things they liked about themselves (with some kids, this part seemed like I’d given them a tough exam they hadn’t prepared for, for all the hard thinking they were doing), and lists of things that made them happy. We sang songs (Whitney Houston’s Greatest Love of All), and made a rubber band chain, with each link in the chain representing something that made them happy. We told them to add a link each time something happened to make them happy, and one day it could grow quite long, and if there comes a day when they don’t feel good about themselves, they can look back at their happy chain and remember all the things that made them happy. Then we finished with a showing of the movie Brave. We popped popcorn for them, and they had a grand ol' time. At the end, we asked them a few questions about what they noticed in the movie. One answer they gave was that they loved the relationship between the mother and daughter best, and they liked how the mother and daughter were able to solve their problems by taking the time to understand each other. They're smart cookies, these kids.   -- Jade Keller Education Program Manager  
MAR 27
02:41 AM

Graduation 2013

From the Field_TMK2820 This year 23 of our students graduated from the equivalent of junior high & high school - and ALL of them have plans to continue their studies! In a community where nearly half of students drop out by middle school, these students' accomplishments are amazing. And so are their dreams. They have battled challenges that many other kids around the world could scarcely imagine, and yet, here they are, conquerers for a day. The graduation festivities on Saturday included speeches from all the staff, a few older students, and fellow graduates. We celebrated with flowers and gifts to honor their hard work and success, and finished it off with a BBQ dinner at a restaurant and a trip to Chiang Rai's Saturday walking street. One speech from an older student stood out in particular. This student told of the challenges he has had to face. Though he loves studying and learning and dreams of one day becoming a lawyer, not everyone has encouraged his dreams. His mother told him after Grade 6 that he should quit school and work. Yet he kept going. After Grade 9, his father who told him it was really about time he quit school. He kept going. The walk from the bus stop to his school was a kilometer each way, and as he looked around him, he saw he was the only one to walk it; everyone else was on motorbikes or could afford other kinds of transportation, so he walked it alone. He laughed about how he sang songs as he walked to keep himself occupied, and about how he really hated the days that rained. He is in law school now, but because he is one of Thailand's stateless, there is no guarantee he will be able to work in his field when he finishes. That never stopped him. He said he doesn't know what the outcome will be, but he has a dream and will continue to follow it, come what may. He told the other students to follow their dreams too. He said the worst part has been the fear he lives in due to being stateless. His identification papers prevent him from leaving the local area. To go even to the next major city would be to risk getting caught by police. That includes going to Bangkok where he would need to go to take tests for his degree - some he wouldn't even be allowed to take without a national ID card, which he does not have. He told the other students that though they might think they have less than other people, they should remember he has had even less than they. _TMK2761 Our students are dreamers. They dream hard, and given the slightest opportunity, they run with it. We stand and applaud them, each and every day. _TMK2840
MAR 18
02:30 AM

The SOLD Project Featured in The Bangkok Post

From the Field Big news for The SOLD Project! We're featured in the news! The Bangkok Post featured a video and article showing part of what The SOLD Project does, and in some of our kids' own words, what being a part of SOLD means for them.

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE SHORT VIDEO AND READ THE ARTICLE.

This is such big news for us for at least two reasons:

1) We get to see the kids make a direct connection between their daily lives and the support and guidance provided by SOLD and how the opportunities provided by SOLD help protect them from risk. To see them say, in their own words, what human trafficking is and how their choices and opportunities have changed because of SOLD...well, it's beyond gratifying.

and

2) Because there is a huge culture of saving face, the work that The SOLD Project engages in broaches a topic that is, in many ways, taboo. There are many forces that want to keep this topic under the table, to hide it away, and pretend it doesn't exist. And some of those forces are incredibly powerful. To bring such a positive message about what we do to national media attention marks a huge achievement, and that is priceless.

Major congratulations go to our Thailand Director, Tawee Donchai, and of course, to our fabulous students!

MAR 12
04:14 PM

A Visit to Thailand | Coming Home With so Much More Than Souvenirs

We all have a lot of ideas on how we can make the world a better place.  Our opinions are discussed around dinner tables everywhere, but once the dessert is served and dishes are cleared, thoughts of world change are exchanged for thoughts of a warm, comfy bed. But there are some who lose sleep trying to wrestle with this question and want to do more than just talk.   That's why I got involved with SOLD,  because a group of 20-something-year-olds wanted to make a difference and set out to do just that.  Personally, my sole passion isn't just for saving children from sex trafficking as I'm involved in many good causes. But I like to be around passionate people and when I saw these young people dedicating their lives to prevention, I wanted to help them out.  So I've worked on several yearly fundraisers that SOLD does in December.  I do my 'job', get a few months off, and help plan again for the next one.

I always told [President] Rachel Goble that I would love to go to Thailand with her.  (Between you and me, who wouldn't want to vacation in  exotic Thailand?!)  I would see some beautiful countryside,  experience a totally different culture than my own and eat some really great food.  Oh, and I'd get to see some cute kids who I help support through SOLD.

The opportunity came up last fall to join SOLD on a trip to Thailand.  I was game!  I was up for adventure!  I knew I would learn about the sex for sale issue in Thailand, but I did not know my heart would become full with heaviness for a country that does not protect it's little girls.

IMG_8236We started our trip in Bangkok, a crowded, pollution-clogged city with modern, glass skyscrapers contrasted with rolling food carts that most of the population eats from.  We stayed near the Red Light district and my first thought when driving by the young Thai girls that were peering in our taxi seeing if we were paying customers, was, "Why are you doing this!  This is wrong!  Don't succumb to this degradation!"  But I didn't know the backstory, which was to unfold in the days ahead.  You see, poor girls from the North have little say and little value.  For the most part, boys get all the privilege and get to continue in school.  But girls are discouraged, even forced to drop out around the 6th grade.  Sometimes this is of necessity as the family is so poor it cannot send their girls to school (middle school and above is more expensive than elementary school- transportation fees, uniform costs, book fees, teacher fees...)  So if a choice is to be made between which child to continue sending to school, it almost always comes down to the boy. So what happens to the girls?  She could marry and start a family. Or she could go to work.  In fact, the later is preferred as culture dictates that the girls in the family are to support their parents and even their extended family.  But job opportunities are few. You need a 9th grade education just to work in a 7/11 or McDonald's, so even the simplest job opportunities are not feasible.  An uneducated girl from a poor village has limited options.  Which is why most girls end up leaving the familiarity of their small village and going in to the larger cities.

To break it down a bit for you, here's some of what I learned:

1. Work in the rice fields.  Long hours, back breaking work under the hot sun.  About $120/month
2. Work as a maid.  This is a 24/7 job with little pay, lousy hours and most times harsh 'bosses'.  About $166/month (if they see fit to pay you the full amount)
3. Work as a factory worker.  The pay is a bit better than that of a maid, the hours are only 10-14 a day with one day off a month, and the work is tedious.  Oh, and she now has to pay for her own room and board and transportation. About $266/month
4. Work as a waitress (usually in a bar). Serves drinks and cleans up vomit.  About $333/month.
5. Work in the sex industry in a Massage Parlor, Brothel, Escort Service or be a Go Go Dancer...   In a Go Go Bar she dances half naked in front of  men who are 2-3 times her age, but they buy her drinks which she gets a cut of, or pays her bar fines and take her for a short or long time. Tips are tremendous.  She is seen as an object to be used not as a person to be valued.  Works all night, but she gets to sleep in. About $1660-2666/month (to put this in perspective a university educated teacher salary is about $1066/month).

So if you were a poor, uneducated girl, with no hope of continuing school, and it was considered your spiritual and familial duty to provide financially for your family, which job would you choose?  If bringing honor to your family is measured by the amount of money you sent them, which job would you choose?  Would you sacrifice your reputation, your pride, your body to feed your family or help keep your sisters in school so they would not have to make the choice you are making?

In passing moral judgement, I was harsh and ignorant. But as I came to understand what brought these girls to the dance tables, my heart broke at their sacrifice. And at that moment of realization, I was so proud to be a part of the SOLD delegation. 

Our last stop was Chiang Rai, where SOLD has a Resource Center.  We finally had fresh air to breathe and were surrounded by green fields. We got to take a step-back-in-time to see where the city bar girls grew up.  We met the children scholarshipped by supporters of SOLD abroad.  As I looked in the dark eyes of vibrant, giggly girls learning guitar and playing volleyball, I wondered what their future would be.  Would they ride the bus to the big city and learn the trade of the uneducated ones before them?  The answer was a hopeful, "No." I say hopeful, because even though they are being scholarshipped to stay in school, even though they are learning about being trafficked (a term they had not even heard of 5 years ago before SOLD came) they are still at risk, as 'recruiters' from the city are always luring fresh, young bodies.

DSC00677The highlight of the trip came after a talent show put on by the SOLD children.  After much laughing and dancing and eating, we circled up on the ground as the sky darkened and shared the hope of the future.  One by one the children told of the dreams they had. "I want to be a nurse."  "I want to be a teacher."  "I want to be a tour guide."   Before SOLD got to this poor village, their choices would have been between a field worker, a maid or a sex toy, as school was not in the future for any of these girls (and boys).  But with the certainty of education these girls have a chance of surviving and thriving in a culture that is so stacked against them.

I got more than an exotic vacation to Thailand.  My heart got tendered as I saw what my dollars to SOLD were helping to prevent.  SOLD needs to be in many more villages.  While there are organizations that provide a safe haven for the girls to leave prostitution, you can see the money is so good in that line of work that many choose to stay in it.  Even if they choose to leave, they still must be educated in order to get a safer and less shameful job. So why not educate these girls in the first place!  So they can skip this step of going to sex trade. That is the mission of SOLD and to me that seems to be the best answer for Thailand's daughters.

I said earlier that this issue was not my 'sole passion' and maybe it isn't yours either.  But I can without a doubt say that I have not stopped thinking about the girls of Thailand since I returned home a month ago.  I have gone from being a casual supporter of an organization that is doing a 'really good thing' to being convinced that SOLD is making a radical,  life changing difference in the lives of children in poor, rural Thailand, one grade at a time. Maybe you want to become passionate about the causes you are giving to.  Then dive in! Take the next step beyond your check book.  Put your feet on the ground!  Go and learn and affect your heart... forever.

DSC00609
Emily grew up in San Jose and was always fascinated by stories of missionaries who lived in far off countries, helping to make the world a better place. She has explored her own mission fields in Mexico, South Africa, France and now Thailand. Emily's background is teaching, so education is near and dear to her heart. Emily speaks and writes and encourages others to help make the world a better place for all, even if its just one person at a time. You can find more of her writings on her blog at www.beyondtheredchair.com.
MAR 06
03:29 AM

Projects Underway

From the Field _TMK2504If you follow us on Facebook, you might have picked up hints that The SOLD Project is celebrating its 5 year anniversary with a couple new film projects. We have two new films in the works. One is meant to be a short inspirational video. The other will share a couple of our students' stories, and provide updates to show just how far we've come. Of course, our kids were only too excited to jump in the fray - so you'll get to see several of them in action! _TMK2446 Stay tuned for the release - we're only to excited to share them with you! _TMK2534 To keep apprised of The SOLD Project's daily movement, be sure to follow us here and on Facebook!
MAR 04
03:29 AM

Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA): PASSED!

Big news came last week, as the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) has passed both houses of Congress and is on its way to President Obama's desk, where it is expected to be signed forthwith. The TVPRA, which is an amendment to the Violence Against Women Act, reauthorizes key federal anti-trafficking programs for the next four years, funding law enforcement as well as providing support for survivors. As Mary Ellison, Director of Policy at The Polaris Project stated, this legislative "action helps fill critical gaps in our nation’s response to human trafficking and builds on the impact of the original law passed in 2000." Provisions include, among other things:
  • The U.S. will work with key governments and agencies to ensure that U.S. citizens do not use any products extracted from the labor of trafficking victims.
  • Measures to establish and uphold minimum standards & best practices for the elimination of trafficking.
  • Measures to prevent child marriage.
  • Child Protection Compact Act, which authorizes the State Department to partner with cooperating overseas governments to stop child trafficking in key areas.
  • An emergency response provision which will help the State Department respond quickly with teams of experts into crisis areas, such as disaster areas, where the breakdown of civil society and sudden increase in impoverished circumstances can leave children or others especially susceptible to trafficking.
  • New tools to help prosecute traffickers and people who exploit the poor, such as: enhanced state & local collaboration and law enforcement efforts.
  • Continued support for existing programs that support survivors of trafficking both in the U.S. and overseas.
The full text of the bill can be found here. We express our many thanks to our friends at IJM for rallying national support at to friends of The SOLD Project who have joined in countless ways, from supporting our Stand 4 Freedom campaign to contacting representatives, to continue the fight for freedom, in the defense of justice. Thank you!
FEB 21
01:05 AM

The Global Fight

News Article Last week, people from around the world stood up with Eve Ensler (of The Vagina Monologues fame) and danced to protest violence against women. From ordinary citizens, to major celebrities - even members of the European Parliament joined in the dance to combat violence against women. It was a global event to speak out against what remains a global problem (warning: that link is to a video that contains graphic images that may include trauma triggers). And likewise several states are adopting legislation to strengthen anti-human trafficking endeavors. It would seem efforts to combat trafficking and other manners of oppressing and bringing harm to women are gaining momentum. But let us not be fooled about how deep and how wide this problem is, nor how stubbornly it persists. While activists were dancing, the U.N. issued a new report that human trafficking has been found in 118 countries, and the vast majority of victims are women and children. According to the report, "trafficking for sexual exploitation accounts for 58 percent of all trafficking cases detected globally while the share of detected cases for forced labor has doubled over the past four years to 36 percent." (Associated Press) Meanwhile, "women account for 55-60 percent of all trafficking victims detected globally, and women and girls together account for about 75 percent," and the trafficking of children is apparently on the rise. (Associated Press) We sing and dance and yell and scream to stop these atrocities and our voices are only growing louder. But we fight a many-headed monster, and it, too, continues to feed and grow. And so we must soldier on.
FEB 15
09:32 PM

Join SOLD at the 2013 Justice Conference

2013 Justice Conference countdown I don't know about you, but we're getting excited for the upcoming 2013 Justice Conference next weekend from February 22-24 in Philadelphia! This year, our film The SOLD Project: Thailand was selected for inclusion in the Justice Film Festival. We'll be showing the film at 12:10 p.m. on Sunday, February 24 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, Room 114. (You can find the full festival schedule here.) We hope to see you there!
FEB 15
03:24 PM

Global Report on Trafficking in Persons reveals we all have a lot of work to do

The 2012 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons released December 12, 2012 by UNODC has revealed that 27 per cent of all detected human trafficking victims between 2007 and 2010 are children, up 7 per cent from the period 2003 to 2006. In South Asia, East Asia, and the Pacific, 39 per cent of all victims are children.

Also worrying is the increase in the number of girl victims, who make up two thirds of all trafficked children and 15 to 20 per cent of the total number of all detected victims. Boys comprise about 10 per cent. The report is based on official data supplied by 132 countries.

Trafficking victims from East Asia have been detected in more than 60 countries, making them the most geographically dispersed group around the world.

The Report raises concerns about low conviction rates - 16 per cent of reporting countries did not record a single conviction for trafficking in persons between 2007 and 2010. On a positive note, 154 countries have ratified the United Nations Trafficking in Persons Protocol, of which UNODC is the guardian. Significant progress has been made in terms of legislation, as 83 per cent of countries now have a law that criminalizes trafficking in persons in accordance with the Protocol.

FEB 14
12:28 PM

The U.S. Senate Passes the TVPRA!

At last! On February 12, the U.S. Senate finally passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act. Originally made law in 2000, this Act has been the foundation for all U.S. anti-trafficking efforts at home and abroad, extending protections to millions affected by the global slave trade and empowering enforcers to prosecute traffickers and help prevent these crimes from occurring. The TVPA requires reauthorization every few years and has passed unanimously three times previously, but fell victim to partisan politics and was allowed to expire in September of 2011. The 112th Congress ended in early January without passing the TVPRA, and it was disheartening to see our lawmakers fail to prioritize the needs of those in bondage and at risk of exploitation in our own country and around the world. Leading the efforts to pass the TVPRA this year were Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), who introduced the Act as an amendment to the Violence Against Women Act, another important piece of legislation up for reauthorization this year. The bill must now pass in the House of Representatives. In the meantime, our friends at IJM, who have helped rally national support (including from many of you!) for the TVPRA for years, have written to encourage all of us to take a few minutes to follow up with our Senators*, thanking them for supporting the bill and expressing our disappointment to the handful who voted against it. How each Senator voted has been recorded below. Thank you all for the significant ways—from joining our Stand 4 Freedom campaign to writing your representatives—that you help defend the oppressed and prevent injustice!
*Note: Senators' contact information can be found online at Senate.gov YEAs — 93
Alexander (R-TN) Ayotte (R-NH) Baldwin (D-WI) Barrasso (R-WY) Baucus (D-MT) Begich (D-AK) Bennet (D-CO) Blumenthal (D-CT) Blunt (R-MO) Boozman (R-AR) Boxer (D-CA) Brown (D-OH) Burr (R-NC) Cantwell (D-WA) Cardin (D-MD) Carper (D-DE) Casey (D-PA) Chambliss (R-GA) Coats (R-IN) Cochran (R-MS) Collins (R-ME) Coons (D-DE) Corker (R-TN) Cornyn (R-TX) Cowan (D-MA) Crapo (R-ID) Cruz (R-TX) Donnelly (D-IN) Durbin (D-IL) Enzi (R-WY) Feinstein (D-CA) Fischer (R-NE) Flake (R-AZ) Franken (D-MN) Graham (R-SC) Grassley (R-IA) Hagan (D-NC) Harkin (D-IA) Hatch (R-UT) Heinrich (D-NM) Heitkamp (D-ND) Heller (R-NV) Hirono (D-HI) Hoeven (R-ND) Isakson (R-GA) Johanns (R-NE) Johnson (D-SD) Kaine (D-VA) King (I-ME) Kirk (R-IL) Klobuchar (D-MN) Landrieu (D-LA) Lautenberg (D-NJ) Leahy (D-VT) Levin (D-MI) Manchin (D-WV) McCaskill (D-MO) McConnell (R-KY) Menendez (D-NJ) Merkley (D-OR) Mikulski (D-MD) Moran (R-KS) Murkowski (R-AK) Murphy (D-CT) Murray (D-WA) Nelson (D-FL) Paul (R-KY) Portman (R-OH) Pryor (D-AR) Reed (D-RI) Reid (D-NV) Risch (R-ID) Roberts (R-KS) Rockefeller (D-WV) Rubio (R-FL) Sanders (I-VT) Schatz (D-HI) Schumer (D-NY) Scott (R-SC) Shaheen (D-NH) Shelby (R-AL) Stabenow (D-MI) Tester (D-MT) Thune (R-SD) Toomey (R-PA) Udall (D-CO) Udall (D-NM) Vitter (R-LA) Warner (D-VA) Warren (D-MA) Whitehouse (D-RI) Wicker (R-MS) Wyden (D-OR)
NAYs — 5
Coburn (R-OK) Inhofe (R-OK) Johnson (R-WI) Lee (R-UT) Sessions (R-AL)
Not Voting — 2
Gillibrand (D-NY) McCain (R-AZ)
JAN 21
05:49 AM

Celebrating a Life of Service

Photo of Martin Luther King Jr. “Everybody can be great,” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “because everybody can serve.” King's legacy is one of courage in the face of injustice, love in the face of hatred, and service for the common good, and so it's fitting that Martin Luther King, Jr. Day has become known as a day of service. In fact, Dr. King’s wife, Coretta Scott King, once said that "the greatest birthday gift my husband could receive is if people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds celebrated the day by performing individual acts of kindness through service to others." And so we challenge you—as we challenge ourselves—to honor his legacy today. According to King, "Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'" Despite the victories of the Civil Rights Movement, the fight Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. fought in the 1960s against evil and injustice is not over. King once noted that "He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it." His words are as relevant today as they were then. He was born into a world where the American slave trade had been illegal for more than 70 years, yet unjust and insufficient laws, entrenched racism, and widespread apathy had allowed discrimination to flourish unchecked. Similarly, nearly every county on the globe has outlawed slavery and human trafficking, yet insufficient laws, widespread apathy, and persistent injustice has allowed modern day slavery to take root in every country on earth. Slavery is different today, of course, but not in the ways you'd think. It's far more widespread and even easier to overlook. For most of us, it feels like a distant problem—none of our concern. But, to borrow King's words, "an individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity." King had strong words for those who stayed silent about things that matter. If you're not yet involved in fighting the injustice of modern slavery, today is the perfect day to begin. You could start with something simple like resolving to buy only fair trade coffee or chocolate—Not For Sale has a smartphone app called Free2Work designed to help you make informed purchasing decisions. Or you could join us in fighting against some of the deep, systemic causes that allow exploitation to flourish in places like Thailand and commit to Stand 4 Freedom: by giving just $4/week you can change the course of a child's life. Whatever you do, make today count. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day isn't just a random Monday off in January. It's a day to cherish our freedom—and pay it forward.
JAN 18
01:18 PM

President Obama's Remarks at the Clinton Global Initiative 2012

Watch Obama's speech about human trafficking at the Clinton Global Initiative here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vuMk-JGcPUQ I don't know if you had a chance to tune in to President Obama's remarks on human trafficking to the CGI on Tuesday, but he was fantastic. Former PresidentClinton gave some wonderful closing remarks as well, which I went back and transcribed (see attached). That same day, the White House released a Fact Sheet outlining the Obama Administration's comprehensive strategy for addressing human trafficking at home and abroad. Good stuff. By the way, if you haven't visited slaveryfootprint.org yet (built by Justin Dillon & The U.S. State Department), do it. It's been around for a year, but it's a beautiful site and a genius idea for raising awareness. It helps when the President gives you a shout-out, too. : ) See also: madeinafreeworld.com. Anyway, it's all well worth reading over and/or watching...and there is plenty of great blog post/social media material in here as well. Let's get something up; with press from the White House, this is the greatest amount of attention the issue is likely to receive this year by policymakers and philanthropists. We should take advantage of any potential spike in search traffic/giving. Michael
"There are some places [...] that I really believe we’ll cure 90 percent of the problem if we just get all the kids in school. That's why it's important [...] that if you see all the kids in school, you make sure their parents have enough to feed them, then I think that system really will die." —President Bill Clinton
JAN 04
02:41 PM

New Year, Same Mission

This is the fourth year in a row that President Obama has declared January to be National Slavery & Human Trafficking Prevention Month. (You can read the full proclamation below.) Many people mishear and misquote it as "awareness" month, but prevention is what the president is really after. For us here at SOLD, we're encouraged to see this continued emphasis on prevention. Yes, awareness is where the journey must begin, but awareness as a goal in and of itself is useless. As a reader of this blog, you're well aware that slavery and human trafficking are realities in our world today. But that's not where your engagement with this issue ends. In fact, it's because you're aware that you care about prevention: that's why you read blogs like this, why you sponsor the education of children at risk, why you Stand 4 Freedom, why you start the Girl Effect, and why you think twice about where your coffee and chocolate and clothing comes from. You do this because you know that preventing slavery and human trafficking isn't just the job of governments; it's the job of citizens like you and me. The slave trade touches all of us, and all of us can make a difference in stopping it. And so, like President Obama, we recognize that our work isn't over. In this new year, we take heart in the incredible progress we've seen this last year and rededicate ourselves to our ongoing mission: to prevent of human trafficking and child exploitation through education. We hope you join us.
NATIONAL SLAVERY AND HUMAN TRAFFICKING PREVENTION MONTH, 2013 BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA A PROCLAMATION This month, we rededicate ourselves to stopping one of the greatest human rights abuses of our time. Around the world, millions of men, women, and children are bought, sold, beaten, and abused, locked in compelled service and hidden in darkness. They toil in factories and fields; in brothels and sweatshops; at sea, abroad, and at home. They are the victims of human trafficking—a crime that amounts to modern-day slavery. As Americans, we have long rejected such cruelty. We have recognized it as a debasement of our common humanity and an affront to the principles we cherish. And for more than a century, we have made it a national mission to bring slavery and human trafficking to an end. My Administration has been deeply commited to carrying this legacy forward—beginning with trafficking that happens on our own shores. We have strengthened protections so all workers know their rights, expanded efforts to identify and serve domestic victims, devoted new resources to dismantling trafficking networks, and put more traffickers behind bars than ever before. In the months ahead, we will continue to take action by empowering investigators and law enforcement with the training they need, and by engaging businesses, advocates, and students in developing cutting-edge tools people can use to stay safe. We will invest in helping trafficking victims rebuild their lives. And as one of the world's largest purchasers of goods and services, the Federal Government will keep leading by example, further strengthening protections to help ensure that American tax dollars never support forced labor. Our commitment to stopping human trafficking does not end at our borders. As a leader in the global movement to combat this scourge, the United States has renewed sanctions on governments that harbor the worst offenders. We have partnered with groups around the world to help men, women, and children escape their abusers. And recognizing that no country can meet this challenge alone, we have aided others in addressing modern slavery's root causes, and encouraged nations across the globe to pass comprehensive anti-trafficking laws, enforce them rigorously, and care for survivors. We know the road ahead is long, and change will not come easily. But as we renew our pledge to erase modern forms of slavery from the face of this earth, let us also draw strength from the movements of the past. We recall the words of the Emancipation Proclamation—that every life saved is "an act of justice," worthy of "the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favor of an Almighty God." We reflect on the Amendment that wrote abolition into law, the decades of struggle to make its promise real, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that has drawn nations together in the pursuit of equality and justice. These achievements once seemed impossible—but on this day, let us remember that they were not, and let us press on toward the future we know is possible. NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 2013 as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, culminating in the annual celebration of National Freedom Day on February 1. I call upon businesses, organizations, faith-based groups, families, and all Americans to recognize the vital role we can play in ending all forms of slavery and to observe this month with appropriate programs and activities. IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirty-first day of December, in the year of our Lord two thousand twelve, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-seventh. BARACK OBAMA
DEC 20
01:20 PM

YOU Started The Girl Effect!

You Started The Girl Effect Back in November, we shared about an incredible opportunity we had to compete in The 2nd Annual Girl Effect Challenge, and hundreds of you turned out to participate. Well, the results are in and it's official: YOU'RE THE BEST SUPPORTERS EVER!! Also, The SOLD Project is part of The Girl Effect for 2013. : ) Here's what you accomplished:
  • 660 of you combined your resources and gave more than $18,000, enough all by itself to fund all our educational programs in Thailand for more than five entire months!
  • Your generosity blew away the competition and The SOLD Project finished the Girl Effect Challenge in FIRST PLACE! This means that from now until November 30, 2013, our work will receive 8.3% (one twelfth) of all donations to The Girl Effect Fund. In the past, projects have received more than $30,000 each over the course of the year.
  • Bonus: You also elevated The SOLD Project to Superstar status on the GlobalGiving platform! This means that we're now and forever considered a top-tier organization on their site, making us eligible for corporate matching gifts, additional exposure, and other perks.
Your outpouring of support means the world to us—and makes all the difference in the lives of the children we serve together in Thailand. We couldn't imagine a better way to end 2012, and we couldn't be more excited for the year ahead. Thank you!!! With hope, Rachel Goble, President & The SOLD Project Team
DEC 17
04:20 AM

A Christmas Party!

From the Field The SOLD Project's Resource Center was rocking it this weekend with a Christmas party held for the students and their friends and family in the local community. There was live music, performances by the kids, face painting, contests & prizes, great local Thai food, gift giving, and decor galore! Here are just a few highlights from the event: _TMK2072 _TMK2097 _TMK2026 _TMK2054 _TMK2037 _TMK2008 _TMK2038 _TMK2028 xmasparty snowinCR

We wish you all could have been there!

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays from all of us at The SOLD Project!

NOV 28
06:02 AM

Borderline

From the Field One of our kids is in trouble. Engaged in work such as ours, one always knows there will be kids on the borderline, that the barrier between safety and the sex trade sometimes grows incredibly thin, and that trouble can come from where you least expect it. One always hopes it won't happen, but sometimes it even comes sooner than you think. She is thirteen years old. Her problem first came to our attention when she began receiving threats from friends at school. When we unearthed her story, we discovered she had been making friends with a woman in the city - a woman who has a history of prostitution. This woman bought her friendship with the gift of a mobile phone and has begun trying to lure her into the sex trade. Ostensibly, she will get paid a reward for luring her in. Our student's "friends" feared she would tell someone about this woman and cause trouble for everyone involved, and thus began the threats. She told her parents what had been happening and her parents came to us for advice. We advised them to sit tight and not do anything just yet. Meanwhile we contacted the authorities, people we work with and trust who have the legal authority and expertise to deal with the woman in the city. Unbeknownst to us, the parents also went to talk to a teacher at the school. The teacher decided the blame for all the trouble lay with our student - and thus prepared to expel her. Luckily, it was possible to talk the teacher down, and our student wasn't expelled--yet. Instead, she had to sign a notice agreeing that if she got into any more trouble of any kind, she would be expelled. She's a good kid, gets decent grades, but she has such limited life experience and, yes, she made some poor choices. She also clearly yearns for more than her small village life offers, hence the lure of the woman in the city. Now her friends have turned on her, and the people who were most meant to protect her, by acting in the way they thought best, have ended up putting her into an even more precarious position. We proclaim poverty the biggest culprit and education the cure...the truth is these two forces work in much subtler ways than simply "need money" and "need education to get a good job." If she weren't fighting poverty, one could imagine she wouldn't be so susceptible to a friendship bought with a cell phone. She might also have access to a better school and more opportunities to explore the world and find healthy challenges to soothe her yearning. And an education that's more than "Yes, teacher, thank you, teacher, I've memorized my ABCs," one that teaches children to question the world around them, to think critically, and to analyze several steps ahead could actually protect her. We all teach our kids not to take candy from a stranger. But what about a gift from a friend? This was not a relationship formed over night. It was created through a thousand little decisions, every step of the way a chance to question, "Does this feel right?" Thirteen is young. Children grow up faster than we think. At the Resource Center, we are working to shift staff schedules so we can be open more days of the week, because when we are open, the kids do come, and at the Resource Center, they are safe. But we cannot watch over every single one of them every waking moment of their lives. At some point, they have to learn to make the right choices for themselves. We can only try to prepare them as best we can. It's no secret here that memorization and respect towards the teacher remains among the highest priorities in many schools. At SOLD, however, we try to add to their regular learning with a focus on 1) inspiring them to find their dreams, and 2) teaching them to think critically. But it's a challenge because most kids' self-esteems are so broken they dare not even think to question. For many of our students, getting them to dare try anything at all is the baseline. And what of our student in trouble now? We've decided to put together our resources and draw on outside help. Our plan is to find a trained child psychologist or therapist for her (and a few others we think may need an extra hand) to talk with privately. And we'll keep in close contact with the authorities to see what can be done about the woman in the city. Meanwhile, we plan to hold a few meetings with the other children, where age-appropriate, to discuss with them the importance of being on their guard. We worry for her. To be quite frank, there are no guarantees with the work we do. But I shudder to think what would have happened to her by now if we weren't here at all. :: If you believe in what The SOLD Project is trying to accomplish, please help us win The Girl Effect Challenge, which could earn us added exposure, credibility, and potentially more donations. It could be a huge boon supporting the work we do. So please voice your support by donating - $10 is all we need from you! - and spreading the word! The more donors we can get, the greater chance we have of winning. Click here to GIVE. Challenge ends Friday - in TWO days, so head over there now!! 
NOV 19
07:17 PM

Come Celebrate With Us!

You are cordially invited to our 3rd annual year end event at Wente Vineyards in Livermore, CA on December 3rd, 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM. This is an exciting time for staff and supporters to come together to celebrate the impact that The SOLD Project is having for at-risk children. Program includes testimonies from local supporters and volunteers, video updates from the ground in Thailand and a keynote presentation from President, Rachel Goble. There will be a silent auction including Wente rounds of golf and concert tickets. Wine and dessert will be served. Swag bags of items from various sponsors will be given to the first 75 registered guests as well as a red carpet photography entrance to the event. We will also be honoring Mari Mahoney of Pleasanton with this year's first annual FREEDOM Award, given to supporters who exhibit exceptional commitment to our work. Come learn about how prevention WORKS and offers opportunity and a future to children deeply at risk of a different path.
"The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you." - B.B. King

Trust us, this is an event you will not want to miss.

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A SPECIAL THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS