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Pray for Karen Smith, working in Thailand to bring freedom to tribal women caught in the net of human trafficking.

March 21, 2012

Karen serves at the New Life Center Foundation (NLCF), an evangelical ministry located in Northern Thailand. NLCF works exclusively with ethnic minority (tribal) women throughout Thailand and its neighboring countries who are at risk for, or victims of, labor exploitation which includes forced work in factories, local markets, domestic situations, and prostitution. Due to the risks involved in this ministry that makes Christ's love known to exploited women, Karen's photo is not used.

She writes: Since 2007, the New Life Center Foundation’s “Specialized Vocational Training” program has assisted over 100 tribal women gain viable work skills and secure employment. As a result, tribal women have on-going security and income for themselves and their families, decreasing their vulnerability to exploitation and trafficking.  This is one program graduate’s story, written in her own words.

 “…My name is Suwanee. I was 26 years old when I entered the NLCF’s vocational training program. I am an ethnic Lisu woman, born in a rural village in the Phrao region of Chiang Mai, Thailand. … Unfortunately, drugs were a theme in my family. My older brother was put in jail for life because he sold drugs. My younger sister acted as a drug mule for our brother-in-law; she got caught, and was also put in jail. My parents died when I was about 18 – my father in some type of drug fight and my mother from general sickness.

“I have a 6th grade education, and I got married when I was 18 years old to a Hmong man from a neighboring village. We were so happy when our son was born! But I wasn’t happy for very long, because when our son was about one year old, my husband also died as the result of a gunshot wound from a drug fight. [Here Suwanee describes her being enslaved to a life of prostitution – read her story in Karen’s journal .

“I happened to meet a friend who was a graduate of this NLCF program. She was working in an upscale beauty salon. My friend told me about this opportunity, and gave me the contact information for the NLCF. I called the manager and discussed the details with her. … I was able to enter the program. I studied beauty salon, hair cutting and styling for six months at a good school, and was able to go to work immediately after I graduated. I worked hard and saved money which I used to support myself and my relatives. I also wanted to save money in order to open my own beauty salon!

“On January 18th, 2011, my dream came true. I was able to open my own beauty salon in an area close to Chiang Mai University. It’s a tiny little shop, but I earn enough money to pay my bills and support myself, my son and youngest brother. Previously, if anyone asked me what I did for a living, I would never want to answer. I did not know what to say, and felt very embarrassed. But now? My vocation gives me confidence and I am proud of my accomplishments. I want to thank the New Life Center Foundation and its donors who gave me this choice and truly gave me the chance to have a new life.”

  • Pray for Suwanee and the many women like her who are being rescued from a life of bondage due to human trafficking.
  • Pray for Karen Smith and the staff at the New Life Christian Foundation who are reaching exploited women with God’s love in the name of Christ.