It’s been two years, but I could still remember the Thai greeting that had become all to familiar to me during my time studying in Thailand. Last Wednesday, I and the entire staff had the pleasure of finally meeting the woman who was the inspiration behind the genesis of Not For Sale, Kru Nam. In the subsequent days, I have been able to see and hang out with this incredible woman and hear her story on two different occasions, both times equally powerful. I’ve been reminded even more this week the power of non-verbal communication, that a hug really is a universal form of affection and that I really really like Thai people (or at least all the Thai people I have come across).
What struck me about Kru Nam the first time I heard her story was the simple act of crying when discussing the frustrations she and the children endured for years, constantly being kicked out of their rented homes simply because the children were stateless. This was the first time I had encountered an adult Thai person who expressed emotion. Perhaps for the crowd of Westerners present in the audience, this seems like an appropriate response for the hardships Kru Nam endured, but I know that in a culture embedded with a “saving face” mindset, to express vulnerability in the form of tears is no small matter.
Through her tears, Kru Nam told a story of resilience and bravery that I can’t help but admire. It’s crazy to think that she has and continues to put up with the opposition from her own family and friends for helping these children. She noted that she couldn’t understand why so many Americans have been so willing to contribute to her children’s home. My initial response is to say it is one way so many can applaud the work Kru Nam has done. However, there is a part of me that asks the same as Kru Nam: why is it that Americans seem so willing to donate their money toward projects abroad but continue to ignore under-funded programs in their own cities that are meant to support the vulnerable, American children from the same villeins that pray on the children between the Burma/Thai border? Are we blind to the same atrocities happening in our own nation’s backyard or do we want to avoid it?
Kru Nam is an amazing, strong example of someone who said, “This is wrong. How am I going to change it?” She took her passion and put it into action. This embodies the mission of the Not For Sale Campaign and exemplifies why I am here: I know that enslaving someone else is wrong and I am going to figure out what the most effective action I can take in my life to make that enslavement end. This fellowship has opened up the many doors that I can walk through and pursue in the forthcoming years. It has provided me with valuable tools that will be useful in whatever workforce I enter once my fellowship is completed. One such tool is the Global Forum on Human Trafficking, happening this Thursday and Friday (October 14th and 15th) in Yorba Linda, California. I hope that the many of you who have been reading our blogs will have also signed up for this event. It is going to be fantastic, my only regret will be that I cannot be in two places at once and hear all the different panels!
So much work has been put into this Global Forum by the staff and fellows and I’m excited to see it all play out. We are all slowly making our way down to Southern California – Davy and I leave on Wednesday on the Freedom Bus, stopping along the way at different universities to pick up students attending Global Forum. Should be a lot of fun and we’ll be there just in time for the Abolitionist Concert at 7pm.
Hope to see you all there!
If you would like to make a donation toward my time in this fellowship, check out https://nfs.webconnex.com/sarahdavis