Thursday, June 12, 2014

Greetings from the Golden Triangle!

Mountains at the border of Thailand and Myanmar

This summer I'm conducting research with Not For Sale (NFS) an anti-trafficking organization dedicated to ending human slavery around the world. I'm spending the summer in Northern Thailand where NFS works with youth who are at-risk of being trafficked. To learn more about NFS and their work to end human slavery check out this video here.

My WDI Global Impact Internship began in early May when I traveled to the NFS headquarters in San Francisco. I spent the next ten days meeting with NFS staff members to learn about their international projects and theory of change. Then came the three day journey to Bangkok before traveling to my final destination of Chiang Saen, a city located in Chiang Rai province in Northern Thailand.

I've spent the past month meeting with anti-trafficking researchers and other local and international organizations dedicated to ending human trafficking in this area known as the "Golden Triangle." This is where the borders of Thailand, the Lao PDR, and Myanmar meet. Historically, the Golden Triangle has long been associated with opium poppy cultivation, but is also home to a number of populations vulnerable to forced labor and sex trafficking. The International Labour Organization estimated in 2005 that 9.49 million people were in forced labour in the Asia-Pacific region, with a significant proportion thought to be in the Mekong Region, which includes Cambodia, China, the Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. The United Nations Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking stated, "Within the Mekong region, the crime of human trafficking is widespread, yet little is known about specific trafficking patterns and trends."

Lao PDR after rain
This is an issue area I'm passionate about. In 2005, I was a student at Payap University in Chiang Mai, Thailand where I had the opportunity to work with sex workers on the streets. Years later, this experience ultimately inspired me to go back to school to obtain a dual degree at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies and the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan.  And now after three years of Thai language study, I am excited to be partnering with WDI and NFS to greater understand the complexities of human trafficking in this region and to also learn how to further develop policies so no one in this world has to be for sale.

Giant Buddha in Sop Ruak
Until next time!

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