Grandma was struggling with heavy drinking and drug use. Her grandkids’ complaints of hunger buzzed annoyingly in her ears, but she couldn’t push past the fog and driving need of her addiction. Her grandkids, desperate and driven by sharp hunger pains, began frequenting the market to beg. Their noses ran; fevers and open sores were frequent from lack of nutrition and care. Mother had abandoned them to grandma. There was no one to turn to.
How do you solve problems like this? How do you bring long term change into a conflict or high trafficking area? You empower local leaders who care about investing in the next generation. That is what our leaders working on the border of Thailand and Myanmar are doing. They focus on approaches that involve youth and train them up to be leaders. They train the community how to watch for people who are vulnerable to being trafficked.
Recently a local network trained to watch for these high-risk situations, informed one of our leaders regarding this family. Our leader wanted to help them, but in a way that empowered not only these children but also the youth in their local community. She gathered students and youth from the local community and together they implemented what they dubbed “Operation Blessing.”
This army of youth poured into the dirty, ramshackle home of this family with armfuls new blankets, mosquito nets, and rice. They scrubbed and scrapped the home into cleanliness. They gathered the family’s clothes and brought laundry down to the river and washed the grime away in the current and soap suds. A few of the boys helped clean the area around the house and even planted a small garden! After Operation Blessing, local village elders committed to visiting this family once a week to check on how they are doing and how they can be helped.
Although “Operation Blessing” is just a small-scale project, it became a turning point for the family. In only a few months a lot has changed for this family. The grandma stopped drinking and using drugs!! Mom showed back up and has become more involved in their lives. She found work, and they all moved to a better house. The children attend school, are much healthier, and don’t beg in the market anymore. Village leaders still visit this family once a week.
This approach demonstrates the next-generation empowerment that we advocate. It focuses on engaging the next generation to be part of the solution to problems in the community that put its members at risk of worse abuses like human trafficking.
As part of our PAK47 community, we invite you to join in the heart of this approach through the PAK Holiday Campaign. These Holiday Projects are not just an opportunity to bless children in other countries for Christmas, but to grow programs that are turning youth in the communities into leaders for change. Visit the Campaign here.