I was one of those people who rarely think about global atrocities until I met my dear friend, Supunnee Pargul.
Supunnee grew up in small village in the Isaan Region of Thailand. Too many village girls are sold into sex work, a common path for young women living in rural and urban poverty.
Supunnee set her amazing, determined soul on a path to help her village fight back. She came to the United States as an au pair. While working more than full time to help raise twin infants, she earned her undergraduate degree and a master's in international development.
My dear friend graduated and is preparing to do something even more impressive! She is going home to her village to put that education to work and realize her true dream to help the women and children of her country become strong enough to resist social pressures that send them into sex slavery.
Supunnee is preparing to move back to Thailand to open her school, where the girls will learn English and alternate paths to earning an income. There are already five young girls anxiously waiting for her arrival to help them begin the most important journey of their lives. Make their dreams come true with your donation. Support Supunnee's strength and determination to build this school and help young woman take control of their futures.
Your donation will educate the women and children on Isaan to know their true worth. Together, we can create a better future for girls who, like Supunnee, can transform their communities if we believe in them. Please invest in this school's success. Every dollar makes a difference.
An excerpt from Supunnee's Thesis:
The Women in Sex Trafficking
Suay Dumdee is a self-confident Thai teenager whose black hair tumbles over her round, light brown face. I am in a room with her and her friends as she tells her story calmly and with disinterest. The only hint of anxiety or trauma is the way she often looks down at her lap and presses her hands tightly together, perhaps a nervous tic. She is 5 feet tall, 100 pounds, and small-boned. She is pretty and cheerful, a wisp of a girl whose negligible stature contrasts with a bold and outgoing personality. She is wearing a T-shirt and a pair of blue jeans. She looks very different from the first time I met her at her job. At that time, she wore a lot of makeup, a mini-skirt, and a strapless top that made her appear older. She described that she made herself look that way to attract customers. Dumdee explained that the brothel owner gave her guidelines on what to wear in order to make herself most attractive to the customers. She was told not to gain weight; “the boss told me that the customers don’t like a fat girl” (personal communication, February 20, 2013). The owner of the brothel also described that he could easily find another girl to replace her if she did not follow his commands.
Every night, she dresses up and gets ready to be bought by men. As she sits in front of the bar, men will come and bargain with her about her price. However, she has to pay the owner of the bar for the chair she sits in. The owner charges her 300 Thai Baht (10 USD) per night for the chair. According to Dumdee, the worst experience she had while working at the bar was being raped by eight men in one night (personal communication, February 20, 2013). It happened when a man bought her, took her to the hotel, and forced her to take a drug. The drug made her head shake and become tired. While she was drugged, the man made a phone call and about fifteen minutes after the call there was a knock on the door. When he opened the door, it was not only one person but seven strange men who came into the room. They told her, “Be quiet or we will kill you” (personal communication, February 20, 2013). Dumdee explained that “during that time, I wish I could die because it was more than painful” (personal communication, February 20, 2013). The next morning, Dumdee was found unconscious in the room by a maid. Due to internal bleeding, she was hospitalized for two months. Unfortunately, due to her debt, she had to go back to the brothel after she was healed.
While it was heartbreaking for me to hear her story, it did not seem to bother her. As I was crying, she was still and remained silent. She told me, “Sister, do not cry because I cried and screamed a lot for a long time. I do not want to see your tears; moreover, nobody can hurt me anymore” (personal communication, February 20, 2013). However, without help, she will continue to be hurt. Thailand’s attitude on prostitution has developed through the moral views established by the social teachings found in the country’s most influential religions. Therefore, the focus of this project is on finding solutions to not only help victims of human trafficking, but also prevent these situations from happening.
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