Santisuk Village Visit
The alarm rings. I scramble to shut it off!
I think to myself, “Is it morning already? Man, I feel like I just feel asleep.” As my eyes flicker open, I suddenly remember that I have been anticipating this day for 2 weeks. So, why do I feel so weak, heavy and disinterested in going. Trying to ignore my feelings, I slowly roll out of bed to wake up Lacy and the kids; “Hey, babe it is time to get up,” I whisper to Lacy
“Oooh, I can’t go today. The kids and I have been up all night, in and out of the bathroom and everyone of the kids has a fever,” Lacy tells me.
“What!” I say, “Really? We have been so excited about going today. Maybe I can just give you and the kids some medicine!” I offer to Lacy thinking I can fix it. “Okay, maybe I should stay here too to help take care of you and the kids.”
“No!” Lacy quickly responds. “I stayed up all night so you could sleep and go this morning. This visit is very important and one of us needs to go. I believe the Lord really wants you to go. I prayed for you all night that God would move mightily through you and the team today.”
“Honey, are you sure you will be okay?” I ask.
With a soft smile she says, “Sure, what is a little dysentery in the morning? We will be more than fine!”
Now, transitioning my thoughts to the day’s task, I realize that I am going to be late. I have to shower, get dressed, get my stuff together, send an email (or two or three), make sure Lacy and the kids are okay and set for my absence, and of course get a cup of coffee. I feel like I can’t get anything ready or myself into gear, as if something or someone is trying to steal my preparation, excitement and anticipation to travel into the mountains to visit the remote village of about 1000 people.
To get to the secluded village we drive about 70 km (43.5 mi.) deep into the jungle which may not seem very far, but the roads traveled to get there are rough, poorly maintained and transit through many small communities and outlying villages. Pon, R1 Thailand Director, navigates the 2 hours of winding roads, his continuous shifting of gears juggles our bodies up and down, left and right to climb up and fall down the “new” concrete road. Finally, despite its 8-10% grades, we reach the apex of the jungle mountain road to descend into the village. The view from up here is extraordinary. We can see the entire village settled in the entire length of the hollow. The smell of wood burning in each home’s kitchen fills the air. Sounds of children singing, laughing and the cheering of the Seventh Grade Boys P.E. class competing in the 40 yard dash permeate the village. Stepping out of the truck at the school, every child just stares at me and as we walk through the campus to visit with the school principal, I hear many children say “farang” (Thai for “foreigner”). So, I reply, “Yep, and this foreigner speaks Thai.” Many of the kids look at me in shock, many laugh, some of the older boys clap and some of the older girls just giggle.
While we visit with the Vice Principal and the school staff we disclose what R1 Thailand does and that we are here to visit two young girls who we knew are at risk. To which they quickly agree with our assessment and immediately disclose more information and some very difficult news about this village. This is what we learn:
- This village is 100% Hmong. They are segregated and considered a low class tribal people. No genuine Thai’s live here.
- The entire school administration and teaching staff travel from outside the village to work and teach at the school.
- The school only goes to 9th grade. There is no other opportunity for further education in the village. This trends “okay” for the boys because they can generally find local labor but for the girls – not so much!
- In this village it is extremely common and accepted for girls to marry and begin bearing children at the age of 13, or when they graduate 9th grade, whichever comes first. Men from other villages walk or traverse by motorcycle through the dense jungle to the village to find young “women” for a wife several times a year.
- There is no police presence or any medical clinic / care in this village.
- Most of the older girls are raped or coerced to have sex with older men in the village. Once, or if, they get pregnant they are expected the marry the boy/man who raped them. Actually, the VP told us about several instances that young men, who want the house and possessions of a family with no father to care for or protect the family, will rape the oldest daughter, get her pregnant and move into the house assuming familial leadership.
- Without exception, every school staff member mentioned that they know the culture is not good for the children, especially the young girls, but what can they do. They wish that some how they could help change the culture.
- Note: there is no Christian influence in this village.
The Vice Principal expresses his thankfulness for Rescue 1, invites us to come conduct awareness assemblies for the middle and high school students and shares his concerns for the two sisters, saying, “The oldest one is a very attractive young women and has been raped several times. She is discouraged with school because she’s 18 and is still in the ninth grade. She wants to go to the city to work, but I fear she is too vulnerable and at serious risk of being abused or exploited like other girls in the city. The younger sister is very naive, and if her sister is not here to help protect her I am not sure what will happen to her. Their mother is mentally ill with a below average IQ and has also been raped repeatedly by many different men. We will do whatever we can to help transfer their transcripts and send a letter of recommendation for entrance into the new school. Thank you for preventing more damage to their hearts and for this great opportunity of support and a future.”
Now, that we conclude our meeting we treat the girls to lunch. Going to the “restaurant” we walk through a hole knocked out of the school’s block wall. Through the wall we walk a short narrow trail that leads us under several homes cut out of the mountain and built on top of each other. I notice that each home / barn shares space with pigs, chickens, dogs, a few water buffalo, and rice plows. Clothes washed that morning are drying in the dust filled air on makeshift clotheslines. The stench of ammonia and feces invaded our nostrils from animal and human excrement due to no ventilation and poor plumbing. The restaurant is a small addition on the back of someone’s house / village gas station and decorated with family artwork. While we eat pork balls with noodles, I order a Coke for everyone. The girls sheepishly smile with excitement and say, “Oh, wow! We have not had Coke in like four years because it is so expensive.” – It cost me $0.85 for a liter. As we commence in small talk I ask the girls what they want to study after high school was over. Immediately both of them lower their head in shame and embarrassment saying– I will summarize– there is no way we could ever go to school after the 9th grade. Mom has no money. We don’t know where Dad is. Our brother says there may be work in the city where all the restaurants and clubs are. Maybe we can get a job there.” Anna, a team member, interrupts saying, “Pretend there is no concern with your education and living expenses. What do you want to study?” The oldest sister, 18, quickly says, “I want to manage a resort one day. The younger sister, 14, says, “I’m not sure, maybe a teacher. Tears stream down their faces as hope begins to ignite their dreams of a future.
Suddenly, my heart breaks, tears fill my eyes and my throat clams shut. I realize that our enemy has been trying to distract and prevent our team and I from being here. He knows that Compassion, Love, Justice, Peace, and JESUS will begin to reign “on earth as in heaven” in this village and that the principality that rules over this village and keeps the villagers in darkness, for close to a thousand years, has limited time to exact his control on the village and their culture.
This is why Rescue 1 exists -for these moments, these lives, these communities, these “1’s”!
Course of Action
- R1 will underwrite the cost of the girls schooling and supplement the family’s monthly expenses.
- Provide counseling for the trauma the family has experienced.
- Visit girls house on a monthly basis for case management, micro-enterprise development and worship.
- Upon completion of this semester we will relocate them to a prevention home.
- Enroll the girls in the city school and begin to tutor, disciple and mentor the girls in their specific needs and future dreams.
- Initiate awareness and prevention efforts starting with school assemblies and community outreach in this village and in others at the foot of the mountain.
Minor house construction
- Install gables, new doors and windows with locks for safety and security. -$350
- Construct a bathroom with their first indoor toilet and shower. -$300
- Install Solar Power System for free, sustainable electricity for a water pump for the outdoor kitchen and new bathroom, instant water heater for winter showers, three indoor lights and plugs for a fan or two. – $500
- Assistance and training for improvement in failing mud catfish and frog raising business. -$75
- Small Tilapia and Vegetable Aquaponics System $1,500
- Eat self grown food daily
- Sell vegetables & live fish daily
- Sell fire roasted fish daily during lunch
Kingdom Development – $800 (Evangelism, training and discipleship materials and planting
- Through our Community Outreach we will seek out Persons of Peace.
- Develop Disciples of Christ, training each disciple in the T4T Model.
- Plant a house church in this village.
- Equip, encourage and empower this church to evangelize other unreached hill tribe villages and teach them to repeat 1-4.
- Financial Support – Rescue 1 Global is so thankful for our financial partners that make our Global ministry and strategic community outreaches possible. Without them we would never be able to meet and serve “1’s” like these young ladies. Become a monthly financial partner today and help sustain and increase our capacity to raise awareness, educate communities, prevent new victimization, put trained boots on the ground to identify the vulnerable and victimized, restore survivors, and spread the Gospel around the world.
- Corporate Sponsorship – We have multiple needs from monetary to services, such as office space, printing, marketing, etc. If your company is interested in sponsoring our anti-trafficking efforts on a domestic or international front please contact Vanita.
- Partner with Us. – Bring us to your church to share what Rescue 1 is doing around the world, learn about Human Trafficking, start a Task Force, and develop a church wide Community Outreach ministry addressing the vulnerabilities that lead to human trafficking and combat Human Trafficking in your community.
- Join our Team – We are now accepting applications for R1USA and R1Thailand Missionaries.
What is the value of “1” to you?
For the Rescue 1 Global Team,
Daniel & Lacy Tolar