Our Daughters

We are frequently asked, “how do you find your Daughters?” This is actually an incredibly important question. After more than a decade visiting remote hill tribe villages in the Golden Triangle, FTD is known as a highly respected program for at-risk girls to pursue their education and achieve their dreams. We focus on girls who are most vulnerable to being targeted by traffickers, exploited by relatives or forced into child marriage.

Many of our Daughters are orphaned or have been abandoned by parents unable to care for them, leaving them in the care of impoverished elderly relatives. As Thailand lacks birthright citizenship, several of our Daughters are stateless, rendering them unable to work legally, move freely beyond police checkpoints or have access to government provided healthcare.

Our General Manager Mee is a Graduate Daughter and has kindly agreed to share her story.

I was born in a very poor Akha village, located high in the mountains along the Burmese-Thai border. My parents were farmers, with no formal education and unable to speak, read or write Thai.  My mother gave birth to five children. My father became addicted to methamphetamines and heroin, and soon my mother became addicted to opium. When I was 9 years old, my father died of an overdose and my mother was arrested for drug possession. Suddenly, I was responsible for taking care of my younger siblings.

I was constantly hungry, tired and worried. I thought only about getting enough food for my little brother and sisters and keeping us safe. 

When my mother returned from jail, she agreed to let me go down off the mountain to stay at a children’s foundation where I could attend school. I was much older than the students in my class because I had missed so many years of school but I loved to learn and was keen to get an education so I could get a good job and support my mother and siblings.

After finishing Grade 9, I was told that there wasn’t enough money for me to go to high school. I was very disappointed because I knew that without a high school degree, my job options were pretty much limited to working as a day laborer, or as a sex worker, or a drug dealer.

That’s when Friends of Thai Daughters changed my life. FTD supported me through high school AND university, providing love, support and everything I needed to succeed.

I was born in a very poor Akha village, located high in the mountains along the Burmese-Thai border. My parents were farmers, with no formal education and unable to speak, read or write Thai.  My mother gave birth to five children. My father became addicted to methamphetamines and heroin, and soon my mother became addicted to opium. When I was 9 years old, my father died of an overdose and my mother was arrested for drug possession. Suddenly, I was responsible for taking care of my younger siblings.

I was constantly hungry, tired and worried. I thought only about getting enough food for my little brother and sisters and keeping us safe. 

When my mother returned from jail, she agreed to let me go down off the mountain to stay at a children’s foundation where I could attend school. I was much older than the students in my class because I had missed so many years of school but I loved to learn and was keen to get an education so I could get a good job and support my mother and siblings.

After finishing Grade 9, I was told that there wasn’t enough money for me to go to high school. I was very disappointed because I knew that without a high school degree, my job options were pretty much limited to working as a day laborer, or as a sex worker, or a drug dealer.

That’s when Friends of Thai Daughters changed my life. FTD supported me through high school AND university, providing love, support and everything I needed to succeed.

Mee’s Story continued….

Thanks to my education, I started working in real estate and used my earnings to buy a pineapple farm to employ my mother, brother and other villagers. I was so proud to be able to help my family and neighbors have jobs. It was so important to me to help other girls like me that I asked FTD if I could lead the next generation of FTD. I became a social worker and now nine years later, we have two Sunflower Houses with a third under construction, supporting 50 girls become their best selves: strong, kind, caring and independent.

I’m now happily married and have my own little boy. My husband and I take care of our Thai Daughters who see us as their “Mom and Dad role models”. Since I come from the same background as many of our girls, they now know that they too can follow in my footsteps — get a good education, help their families and villages, and pursue their dreams.

Thanks to Friends of Thai Daughters, my English ability improved enough that I could get a job in real estate. I soon learned the ropes and was selling and renting houses to foreigners in Chiang Rai. With my commissions, I bought land near my village to grow pineapples. My mother, brother and other villagers worked for me and we shared the profits among us. I was so proud to be able to help my family and neighbors have jobs.

It was so important to me to help people that I asked (FTD co-founders) Patty and Jane if I could be a Housemother and take care of girls like me. With their support, I started our Sunflower House in Chiang Rai. Now, nine years later, we have more than 15 girls in our House. I’ve become a social worker and used my skills to help our Daughters become their best selves: strong, kind, caring and independent.

I’m now happily married and have my own little boy. My husband and I take care of our Thai Daughters who see us as their “Mom and Dad role models”.  Since I come from the same background as many of our girls, they now know that they too can follow in my footsteps — get a good education, help their families and villages, and pursue their dreams.

We don’t “find” girls.

Our goal is not to fill our homes but to meet the needs and have a transformational impact in the lives of the most vulnerable. Girls typically enter our program through referrals from local officials or other NGO’s.

For girls to enter our program, they must demonstrate significant need and vulnerability. Our assessments are made by a qualified local social worker and our program manager who have a deep understanding of the local culture and the situations and challenges that it presents.

Evaluation Criteria for Entering Our Program

 

  • Absence of responsible caregivers (parents are incarcerated, addicted or deceased)
  • Siblings/parents in sex work
  • Desire to attend university
  • Good references from teachers and village headman
  • Positive attitude and good behavior

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