Editor’s Note:  Mariah Proctor takes personally and seriously the pain of children who are sold into the dark and evil world of human trafficking. To bring their stories to life and this plague to the attention of more people, she is playing a key role in producing a documentary called Saints and Slaves in Siam, that highlights both the problem and those who work to rescue children from this scourge.  Her role in the film is to go to Thailand for four months, work in a home that rescues children who have been trafficked and do all of the preproduction and scripting for the documentary. 

She has raised the money for this preproduction effort herself, but needs to raise $2800 more, which she is doing through a program called Kickstarter, which helps film makers raise money for their projects. At this website, Mariah has put a video clip describing the upcoming documentary and people make pledges toward the amount.  According to the rules of the site, she has 8 more days to finish raising the $2800. 

To contribute to Saints and Slaves in Siam click here.

All the scars on my face are on the same side (I really do have a good side). My favorite, came from what I tell friends was a freak tricycle accident at age four. I was directing a big wheel all over the carpet in the family room having the time of my life. Most moments of a traumatic and jarring nature in my life have started with an admonition not to do whatever it is I’m doing or thinking of doing.

I remember my Mom giving me such an admonition not to ride in the house, and then moments later (after persisting in my disobedience), I crashed and smacked my head on the brick fireplace. I was immediately encompassed in loving arms, ready to clean me up and get me to a hospital if needed. These same arms that I had directly disobeyed only moments before didn’t hesitate for a moment when I was suddenly in need of their help.

My whole life has played out thus, full of help and support on every side any time I’ve ever needed it (and even sometimes when I thought I didn’t). I was always encouraged to imagine and play. That day in the midst of my tears on the way to the emergency room, I bemoaned the fact that the exact same thing had happened to my imaginary friend Emily the day before. When my parents asked how that turned out I managed to get out between heaving sobs that she—was—just—-tfttftftf—-FINE.

At that same age, that age where I felt the tender care of a pair of loving parents–and even when I fell, I fell into the net of safety they’d already woven for me–children 8000 miles away in the hills of northern Thailand were kidnapped from their homes to be sold into sex slavery and exploited for labor. Ai, a Thai woman in her early thirties who was rescued by a Catholic nun after 10 years of sex slavery said of the experience, “I was dead from the very first day.”

About 500 children are sold every week at Bangkok’s Hua Lampong railroad station, during the dry season for farmers. The $100 that their parents might receive as payment for their slave labor annually is a small fortune for the desperately impoverished. Despite the fact that it is illegal to work until the age of 15 (and even then only with permission), the Thai Labor Department estimates that there are about 1 million children between the ages of 11 and 14 working and many children under age 10 are also employed.  Many, if not most of these children have been trafficked.

The parents at that Bangkok railroad station, holding the little hands that are about to become merchandise, are as frightened as their children. They’ve been told, and they turn around and tell their children, that their employers (the tycoons of factories, brothels, and massage parlors in Thailand) will give them ice cream and take them to the zoo on Sunday afternoons.

Why, while this was happening to these Thai children, did I actually get to go to the zoo and have ice cream and all without ever having to be brutally separated from my parents? This past week was something of a quarter-life crisis for me as I turned 20 and officially left my teen years behind. Looking back at the life I’ve lived to this point, I’ve been feeling like it was snatched away too soon, like I had lots more to enjoy from the zero responsibility side of things. But I don’t know a thing about stolen childhood. 

Over 2.2 million children are sold into the sex trade every year. In India, it’s costs less to buy a child than it does to buy a cow. When these children fall (with no net to catch them), there are no loving arms ready to scoop them up and gingerly wipe away the blood and the tears.

It all seems devastatingly unfair to me. I’m comfortably perched at the very summit of fortune and opportunity in this world, and I’m overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of people who have less. It’s only now that I’m swimming in the realization of responsibility that my position of privilege has granted me. I don’t have enough arms to lift every child that has fallen, but I do have a voice, a voice that I know can pierce through the darkness with power, and it’s high time I used it.

To contribute to Saints and Slaves in Siam click here.