An Old SOLD Friend Returns
A few months ago, Adrian Rowse began a 73-day journey in Thailand called the “Isaiah 58 Experiment.” He had first visited Thailand back in January 2010 on a SOLD vision trip, and he returned home to begin using his influence to advocate for the work of The SOLD Project, as well as then-brand-new Urban Light. Today, Adrian’s goal upon returning to these places and organizations is simple: “Spend intentional time connecting with God each day and, out of that, love and serve those who are vulnerable and exploited wherever I have opportunity to do so.”
Adrian has spent the last two or so months with Urban Light, a non-profit working with teen boy prostitutes in Chiang Mai. Urban Light was started by Alex Russell, who officially began her work during the same trip to Thailand Adrian attended back in 2010. He recently headed north to reconnect with our on-the-ground work in Chiang Rai.
“On Friday, I left my home [with Urban Light] of the last two and a half months and took the three hour car ride to Chiang Rai. I was here exactly two years ago (to the day), on a trip with The SOLD Project, designed to give a bunch of people exposure to the issues of human trafficking and child prostitution. I’m here for just a week, hanging out with the team from SOLD who’s mission is in a nutshell, the prevention of child prostitution – or as their slogan says, ‘Sex sells. Children. Help stop it before it begins.’
“It has been amazing in the last 24 hours to see how much the work and impact of SOLD has grown in the last two years. Their work revolves around providing educational scholarships to the most at-risk children in their region. Without this support, these children would drop out of school with a bare basics education and be under pressure to seek work in the cities to support their families – drastically increasing their vulnerability to being trafficked or exploited. Today SOLD provide scholarships to one hundred children and have a 98% school retention rate over the four years that they have been working in this part of Chiang Rai. Much of this success can be attributed to the quality of SOLD’s Thai staff, the level of engagement of SOLD with the local community and the support, vision and resources of SOLD’s US-based staff, (some of the best quality people I’ve had the pleasure of seeing in action).
Two years ago, I looked at a patch of red dirt that was to become SOLD’s first resource centre. The Resource Centre is now bursting at the seams and plans are underway to expand. The really exciting thing is that the SOLD model is working brilliantly and will be easily transferable (and tweakable), to other communities in northern Thailand and perhaps to other parts of Asia. Possibilities for an expanding work are likely in the near future.
The organisation was started just a few years ago by a couple of twenty-something girls from California, who were stirred to act in response to what they were learning about human trafficking and sexual exploitation.
“It has been refreshing to be back in Chiang Rai, to be reminded of the critical part that prevention plays in these complex issues.”
Adrian is the former director of Roundabout Ministries, which “aims to provide young people with support, encouragement and information that will enable them to make significant, life-changing choices regarding their future direction of travel in life, particularly in the area of sexuality and identity.” He is also an accomplished speaker and musician in Australia.
Oh, and one more thing: Adrian has a crazy goal to raise $100,000 for SOLD and Urban Light in 2012. Learn more here.