Daughters Rising

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Several weeks back my mom was visiting me here in Chiang Mai for the holidays and we decided we wanted to spend an afternoon playing with elephants - a popular activity for tourists when visiting Thailand.  A friend of a friend referred me to Chai Lai Orchid which is considered "one of the good ones". An unfortunate reality in Thailand tourism is that there are many elephant camps that do not treat their elephants well and are in the business solely for maximum profit, giving little thought to the welfare of their elephants.  Chai Lai Orchid, on the other hand, is a social business helping elephants have a good life while offering memorable experiences for tourists.  Now that's a business model I can stand behind!
As it turns out, not only are the people at Chai Lai Orchid committed to helping elephants, but they also have another program called Daughters Rising that really just pierces my heart.  Daughters Rising helps to prevent sex trafficking and exploitation of young at-risk hill tribe girls and their mothers.  Tragically, sex trafficking is a thriving industry here in Southeast Asia and especially northern Thailand where there are so many Burmese refugees who have fled their own country with no education, marketable vocational skills or means of income.  
Daughters Rising website reports, "As many as 2 million children are forced into prostitution every year and more than half of them live in Asia.  Unlike a lot of problems in developing countries, this is one that is actually getting worse.  At the peak of the transatlantic slave trade, 80,000 slaves were transported from Africa to the new world.  Today, more than 10 times as many women are being forced into brothels or other forms of slavery.  Every 30 seconds, another person becomes a victim.  Women are lured by traffickers with false promises of jobs such as domestic help, models, and other hospitality jobs and are then forced into slavery."     

Daughters Rising (DR) helps these young women in a variety of ways:

  • Education - DR holds RISE workshops teaching the young girls women's health and understanding of how diseases are spread, English and Thai language, human and migrant worker's rights and basic laws, warning signs and dangers of trafficking and creative thinking through art and writing.
  • Vocational Training - At risk girls and survivors are provided specialized hospitality training which results in viable employment and work skills as well as literacy and life-skills.
  • Craft Preservation and Income Generation - DR cultivates and celebrates traditional indigenous skills through the curation and sale of their hand crafted artisanal products. 

"We started with the notion that if we really wanted to prevent trafficking of the most vulnerable victims in the poorest areas, we would need to instill change from the bottom up. We would need to start with young girls — empowering them to respect themselves, to value the role of women in their society and to have the confidence and knowledge to stand up for themselves." Alexa Pham, Daughters Rising

It's likely hard to imagine the full scope and magnitude of this problem, but I see it every day when I drive the Chiang Mai streets at night.  I see the women on the side of the street and wonder if they've chosen this profession (which is likely still by necessity) or if they've been forced into prostitution.  I'm so fortunate to have never experienced anything like this first hand.  My being born in America allowed me so many opportunities and a life these girls will likely never know.  But we can make a difference.  Let's help empower them, educate them and support their indigenous craft.   

Cool Stuff + Good Karma = Conscious Creation
Let's help these daughters rise!  Are you with me?
"No one is free when others are oppressed." ~ Author Unknown

More Details
Burmese Refugee Situation - Specifically the Post Cold War (1988 - Present) and Kayin State sections. 

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