Over 945,000 Children Are Currently Sex Slaves. How Can You Help?
Back in April, I introduced you to my amazing and inspirational friend, Nicky, who runs Free To Shine, an organisation that believes children should be in schools, not in brothels. In seven years of running Free To Shine, Nicky and her team work with more than 700 girls to keep them safe from sex traffickers.
Over the years, Nicky has told me of some of the horrific stories of young girls and what they go through in sex slavery. As reading above, the daily abuse of rape and beatings is hard to comprehend. I have cried many a tear hearing about their stories, of girls as young as four years of age raped and kept in cages like animals. Or of girls who are often whipped and smothered in chillies. Horrific stories.
Catching up with Nicky again, it is rewarding to hear how Free To Shine has grown.
Did you know it only takes $540.00 a year, or $1.50 per day to place a girl in school and educate the girls and families? It is essential for these poor and uneducated families to learn they are better off financially sending their child to school, rather than sold as sex slaves.
And these girls are leading the way for others.
Romlek* is only 15 years old and is already the head of her household. Both her parents have gone to work in Thailand to repay a loan they took out to build a new home. Romlek cooks, cleans and takes care of her 14-year-old brother. In addition to her responsibilities at home, she excels in school and teaches the largest English class of any girl on our program. Six days a week, she hosts 50 students from all over her village at her house to learn and practice their English. Romlek says, “Even though I am so busy with my housework and my studying, I still want to do the best thing for the community and the next generation.”
* The name has been changed.
In mid-2016 and after much consideration of the support needs of the girls and their families, Free To Shine established a Social Work Team to operate as an extension of the work done by their fabulous Education Officers.
Their new structure means that girls who have left - or who are at risk of discontinuing – school, and girls who are experiencing life’s extreme challenges, are reported and discussed in our daily team meetings, and referred to the Social Work program. Free To Shine now has three talented & experienced Social Workers who each work within specific geographical locations alongside four Education Officers. The groups travel out to villages as a team and Social Workers are on hand to support their Education Officer colleagues as issues arise. Social Workers help the girls and their families, developing case-specific plans that enable them to move through adverse circumstances, such as:
• pressure to leave school early from the family
• a significant caring role for a family member/s
• live in child-lead households
• experienced grief and loss
• experienced family or gender-based violence
• health issues including HIV and AIDS
• financial problems
• housing issues
• learning difficulties
• parental mental health issues
Ultimately, the Social Work program improves Free To Shine’s program retention by providing the girls with the individualised support needed to keep them safe, in school, and out of brothels.
Let's help Nicky and the team this Christmas to save more girls from sex slavery. Go to Free To Shine and make a once off donation, or become a regular donor. What I love is I know most of the funds are going to the girls, as they keep their administrative costs to a minimum.
Filmed at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre, Mark Darwin interviews Nicky Mih from Free to Shine. Grab a coffee and listen, or have playing while at work. Nicky and her team are making a huge difference to the lives of these girls.