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Life in Thailand

July 21, 2009

Soon after Nate proposed to me, we decided that we wanted to move to Thailand. For many reasons really, but first and foremost to further the work of The SOLD Project and begin developing “The SOLD Project Prevention Program” in the high risk areas of Northern Thailand. With our documentary film project now complete, The SOLD Project’s main focus is now on preventing child prostitution in Thailand (specifically), but also around our world. The SOLD Project Scholarship Fund was founded in June of 2008 because we found that alleviating the financial burden education causes was the first step to preventing young children from being lured into the sex industry in Thailand. Since that time, Rachel Goble-Carey and myself began to dream about creating a holistic prevention program that would become more than just “throwing money at a problem”, but a program that would address many struggles that adolescents face in Thailand.

In short… Nate and I are here to develop this Prevention Program, hire Thai staff, build relationships with the communities that SOLD has a presence in, and immerse ourselves in the culture while doing so.

Before family, friends, and God we professed our love… said our good-byes… sold our possessions… and headed to Thailand. After a glorious honeymoon in the island of Koh Tao, we spent the next 1 1/2 months leading a group of volunteers through Thailand to experience both the heartbreak and hope that exists throughout the issue of child prostitution. We had a total of 12 volunteers on 2 separate trips. I don’t want to put words in the mouths of these amazing volunteers, but I would guarantee most of them would sum up the experience in 2 words: life changing

The volunteer trips ended in Cat’s village…. the location that Nate and I will be calling home for the next 9 months. We found a beautiful home to rent after learning that there are no such things as “apartments” in Chiang Rai. The house came fully furnished, including dishware, bedding, and Tokay Lizards (I won’t get into how SCARY!!!! these creatures are.) To help combat the lizard issues we decided to get a dog. However, our new little French Bulldog, Ooshki Graeser, is currently smaller than most of these lizards that roam around. Mommy is hoping that soon he will be able to at least bark to warn me that they are near πŸ™‚ Don’t get me wrong, our home does have redeeming qualities, such as a beautiful yard and plenty of room for guests (**wink wink**).

So, what does The SOLD Project Prevention Program look like? And, what will Nate and I be doing over this next year?

The Prevention Program is 4-fold 1) Scholarships… we currently have 54 children receiving financial help to stay in school. 2) Mentorship… each child receiving our scholarship must be in a mentoring relationship with a community leaders (these leaders are currently being chosen). 3) After School Program… each child must participate in the after school program which includes sports, art, and tutoring. 4) Human Trafficking Awareness Program… we are putting together curriculum that will be taught in the school to teach adolescents about the risks of trafficking in their area and also about the sex industry in Thailand.

Nate and I start full-time at Bassan Wittaya Primary School (the school Cat attends) in late October. We will be teaching English, as well as running the After School Program and developing the Trafficking Awareness Program curriculum, alongside our new Thai staff. Our time here will also consist of expanding this program to reach other high-risk areas in Thailand, as well as developing a long-term volunteer program that will enable people to come and work with SOLD for months at a time.

In the meantime, we are taking Thai language class, which I admit is a lot harder than I had imagined. I believe this has a lot to do with the fact that I haven’t been in school for 3 years and don’t like the whole studying thing πŸ™‚ We are also using this time to get acquainted with places, smells, driving, and married life.

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