It Required a Response

 

When the SOLD Project’s founder, Rachel Sparks, first heard about child sexual exploitation in Northern Thailand, she knew she had to do something. Aware of the power of film, she assembled a small film crew and traveled to Thailand to document the issue. As Rachel and her crew interviewed sex worker after sex worker, common themes became apparent: poverty, a lack of education, and a lack of options.

The team had hired a local Thai student, Tawee Donchai, as a translator for the interviews, and he invited the crew to his home village in Northern Thailand to see where many of these child sex workers came from. In this village, Rachel and the crew met Cat — the subject of SOLD’s first documentary film. This meeting changed everyone’s lives forever.

An All-Too-Common Story

When she first met Rachel, Cat was ten years old and living in poverty with her mother, a former prostitute. Cat’s mother worked tirelessly to keep her in school, but with education fees increasing exponentially as she got older, Cat’s education would soon become too expensive to continue. On top of this, her mother’s health was failing. This all-too-common story looked poised to repeat itself, as Cat would be forced to move to the city to find work.

When Rachel learned that only about $1 per day would keep Cat in school and out of the sex trade, she jumped at the opportunity to cover the costs herself. Rachel and Cat’s relationship created the early model for SOLD’s sponsorship program, which has provided scholarships for over 180 Thai students to date.

The Birth of SOLD

Even before it’s official release, Rachel’s documentary featuring Cat caused a stir among her family and friends. They wanted to know if there were other Thai students in Cat’s situation they could sponsor themselves. Rachel Goble, SOLD’s President, came on board, and The SOLD Project was born as a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing scholarships to Thai students. Tawee, who had witnessed this injustice his entire life and was passionate about ending it, was hired to move back to his home village and help run the organization there.

After providing scholarships for about two years, SOLD’s leadership and staff knew they needed to expand their work to become a more holistic prevention program. This drove the creation of the first Freedom Center, where a full set of resources are now provided to students, including tutoring, mentorship opportunities, awareness education, English courses, professional development, and much more. With new programs like our Sustainability Project, SOLD’s holistic efforts to prevent child trafficking and exploitation continue to affect real change in Northern Thailand, helping to break the cycle of poverty and despair.

About The SOLD Project

The SOLD Project prevents child sexual exploitation and trafficking in Thailand, providing vulnerable Thai children and youth with scholarships and resources to help them break the cycle of poverty, avoid the dangers of child trafficking, and lead productive, independent lives.

 

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    Oakland, CA 94612
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