Some Daemen College students recently traveled to northern Thailand on a mission to help prevent human trafficking. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says the Daemen students taught at-risk children in that country on avoiding a very serious issue.
“It’s just kind of upsetting and hard to see their reality I guess you would say,” said Madelynn Turano, Daemen junior and social work major.
Turano was among 14-students who participated in the international service learning experience. For three weeks, Turano worked with student’s ages 12 through 17 years old. She taught them lessons on improving their education and how avoid becoming a trap of human trafficking.
“More than like the sex trade industry, they can also be labor, so someone like the young boys are working for very little, if any pay at all – you know their doing work. Some of the 11, 12 year old girls – they’re working in bars, so it’s more than just the sex industry, although it is a part of it. You know these kids are being exploited” Turano remarked.
“We go to northern Thailand, which is right on the Thai-Burma-Myanmar boarder – which is where a great deal of trafficking is happening,” noted Dr. Diane Bessel, assistant professor, program director of master of Social Work.
Bessel and another professor accompanied the students on their trip. Bessell noted Thailand is a source and destination for human trafficking. They worked with the Development and Education Programme for Daughters and Communities and a prominent leader fighting the issue.
“So we worked with Sompop Jantraka. He’s actually a two-time Nobel Prize nominee. This man has had death threats from traffickers. He’s had run-ins with the police and he’s been doing this work for 25-years. And he really operates what we call a coordinated community effort, so he does a lot of education for the family,” Bessel explained.
“While we were there we taught self-defense so they’re able to protect themselves and things like that,” Turano noted.
Daemen students also provided lessons in hygiene and having healthy relationships.
While Turano worked with teenagers, other Daemen students worked with children as young as three years old.