Not Just Staying Alive…Choosing to Live
Suki* used to stay home every single day. After school, she would curl up for a nap or to spend hours in front of the TV. Not by choice, but because her family insisted upon it for her health. All her life, they told her that playing with other children or otherwise exerting herself would cause her health to deteriorate. Being outside and having fun would hurt her, they said. Suki is HIV-positive.
But Suki did have a friend, Pleng*, who is one of our scholarship students. Pleng eventually convinced Suki to come to SOLD. There were openings for scholarships available, and Pleng convinced her friend to apply. Upon accepting Suki into the program, however, our SOLD staff had to work hard to convince Suki and her family that engaging in normal activity was not only healthy, but beneficial for Suki. Moreover, our staff stressed, Suki has value as a person and should share herself with others. It was hard for the young girl in particular to undo all she had previously been taught: that she could not enjoy life the way normal kids do.
In the end, her family allowed her to join in SOLD activities, and Suki was welcomed and encouraged by the staff and kids who immediately accepted her as one of their own. She now comes to visit SOLD almost daily and is developing strong relationships with both staff and fellow students, proving herself adept at getting along with others and getting involved in whatever activites the SOLD kids were doing each day. She is happier, making new friends, and enjoying new life experiences.
We set out to combat trafficking, but what we do is broader in scope too. We aim to give new opportunities to kids, certain that given just half a chance, these kids will produce great results in their lives. If we give these kids the foundation from which to take chances, then they can feel proud about themselves when they take the risk and discover that they can succeed.
*Names changed to protect privacy.