Mission Part 1
Sitting down to write this, it is very hard for me to know where I should start. Upon returning from Thailand, the last week for me has been very emotional as I reflect on the time I spent over there. Having seen, heard, and learned so much about the girls I helped there I also gained a much better understanding of their culture as well. We are so blessed here in America, and as I sit down to write this, its important to note that we should all count our blessings and be thankful for so many of the everyday things we so often take for granted.
People often ask why I don’t support local organizations within our own country. Actually, yes I do. In fact, I am involved in helping those affected by sexual exploitation within our own backyards. I have helped to organize, sponsor, and promote multiple fundraisers to help those in need including: children dying of cancer, abuse victims, shop with a cop (Christmas) while helping children who come from abusive homes (or) families that simply don’t have much. Helping others has always been a soft spot for me, and it hurts knowing how many children are out there suffering.
Over two years have gone by since I first heard about children getting sold into sex trafficking or sexual exploitation to help support their families. I cant tell you how badly this filled my heart with sorrow. As a mother to a nine year old daughter, it is so hard for me to think about how lucky she is and how unfortunate other little girls her age are. Inside I felt this was a calling for me to help, and I remember thinking to myself, “How can I possibly make a difference?” Since God blessed me with the gift of hairstyling, I realized it was important for me to help provide these girls with a trade so they would never have to be sold into sex trafficking again.The more my heart was pulled, the more I dug into what I was eventually called to do. That is when I learned about Destiny Rescue. Less than a year later, I contacted them, and asked to help at a Destiny Rescue Salon.
For a person like Tina Marie Cairo however, it was a much bigger calling. Having met her during my mission, she runs a salon in Thailand for girls that have been directly involved in sex trafficking. Not only does she sacrifice her life for these girls, she lives in Thailand and only goes home once or twice a year. Working with her was such a blessing. For me it was only a week, but that one week would change my life forever.
Reflecting back on what I learned about the culture over there was amazing to me. Flying into Bangkok was like flying into New York. It was a busy city with lights, action, and really no sign of poverty. Flying into Chiang Rai however, was a completely different story. Tina explained to me that while Bangkok welcomes more visitors than any other city in the world it views its surrounding cities much differently because they are very poor and still developing.
Outside of Chiang Rai are additional villages that are extremely poor. This is where the importance of sex trafficking comes into play. Because their culture is so different than ours, many people simply depend on having children for survival. When a child comes into age, they are often pushed out to work. With no education and a need for money, girls are often sexually exploited to support their families. While the bonds that hold these families together are strong; abuse, drugs and alcohol are often just as powerful.
With no other way to work or support their families, girls either sell themselves on street corners or are sold into brothels or mamma saunas for money by their families. One brothel we visited in Bangkok was three stories high with curtains hung in front of the doorways of each room. As you walked by the young girls & boys standing outside would simply open the curtains to let you peek inside. Mind you this was only five blocks away from a busy mall and anyone could walk in.
Each girl had on them a number so it was easy to identify and ask for them. What really affected me was when I reached the 3rd floor. I saw two small boys just standing there. They couldn’t have been any older than six or seven years old. No parents. Just hanging out. I was informed that this was very common as their parent(s) may have been busy working in one of the rooms nearby. Disgusting. My heart dropped and all I wanted to do was take these little ones home with me. Do brothels sell children you ask? Well of course… No age limit applies! Although it is against the law to sell a child under ten years of age, it still happens. All you have to do is ask. At least I can proudly say that it was Destiny Rescue that first brought down a brothel in Thailand, that was known for selling children and that brothel is still closed to this day…