In 2002, my friend Patty and I were travelling in Northern Thailand when we encountered a group of 15 girls at risk of human trafficking, fending for themselves in an abandoned school. The girls had little adult supervision and were trying to survive as best they could in an area known for human trafficking agents. The situation was extremely worrying.
We provided financial assistance and made a promise to the girls of Doi Luang that we would not forget them. We later returned to Thailand with a camera and made a documentary about the girls’ stories and life in their villages. Each girl had a tragic story to tell. Many were AIDS orphans or had parents in prison. Most lacked ID cards, leaving them “stateless” and highly vulnerable to traffickers. Something had to be done to protect them before it was too late. We decided to help them and the idea of Friends of Thai Daughters was born. After three years of providing financial support from friends and family, we registered Friends of Thai Daughters as a 501(c)3 charitable organisation in 2005.
Friends of Thai Daughters is an intensive, comprehensive and long-term prevention programme, focusing its efforts on those most at risk of being trafficked.Our mission is to prevent child trafficking in Northern Thailand with education, shelter and love.
Prevention through education: Education is the foundation of FTD’s mission. Our Daughters receive educational funding through university to enable them to be self-supporting adults upon graduation. Many of our Daughters attend or have graduated from Thailand’s top universities. Graduates have gone on to become nurses, teachers, artists and entrepreneurs.
Protection through safe shelter: In 2015, the Otto & Fran Walter Foundation provided the funding to purchase the first permanent Sunflower House in Chiang Rai. FTD Daughter Pitchaya Aryi is the General Manager and loving housemother, mentoring and guiding our fifteen Daughters, ages 8 through 18. In 2016, we established a second Sunflower House in Chiang Khong in partnership with the Child Rights Protection Center. It is home to 15 Daughters, ages 12 through 18.
Support through loving kindness: FTD is not just a programme, it’s a family where older sisters care and mentor younger ones. After Daughters graduate from college, they remain family members receiving emotional and professional support as they forge their careers and build their lives as strong, self-confident and independent young women. FTD: Working to address a worldwide crisis. Human trafficking is a growing problem across the globe, especially within developing countries. The Greater Mekong Sub-region and Thailand have served as a source and destination country for traffickers and victims. Sex trafficking puts women and girls at high risk of contracting HIV/AIDS and other devastating health consequences, both mental and physical. The violence and poor living conditions victims experience is unimaginable to many people but is all too real to them. Steps need to be taken to help trafficking victims now and to prevent future trafficking.
Women and girls can be lured into trafficking in multiple ways. Often traffickers go to impoverished hill tribe villages and promise girls and their families that they will be taken to the city to start jobs as waitresses or maids. Traffickers tell the families stories about all the money their daughter will make and the different opportunities she will have. Traffickers will even make a “down payment” on the girl and pay parents for their daughters before they take them.
FTD: An effective method to fight trafficking
FTD is a prevention programme, focusing its efforts on ethnic hill tribe girls in Northern Thailand who are at-risk of being trafficked due to extreme poverty, lack of legal status, being orphaned or having parents in jail. FTD focuses its efforts on the most vulnerable girls in Northern Thailand.
While many NGOs provide support and services for a short number of years, the FTD model provides shelter, support and education through college and beyond. FTD daughters enter the programme as vulnerable children and emerge as empowered adults. As confident, self-supporting young women, they are able to break the cycle of poverty and exploitation and lead productive and happy lives. The video, A way back home: Fighting child trafficking with education, shelter, and love, is a short film that shows how Friends of Thai Daughters changes the lives of young girls. Take a moment and see the amazing impact FTD has on girls’ lives.
You can find the video at
Daughters helping raise awareness on human trafficking and statelessness.
Our Daughters also participate in a number of activities to help raise awareness about human trafficking and statelessness in order to help others. These include regional conferences and sports programmes here in Thailand.
In September, a group of Thai Daughters headed to Bangkok to make their voices heard at a 3 day conference sponsored by the Thai Health Foundation. For many of the girls, it was their first time exploring the capital city but more importantly, it was their first time standing up in front of an audience of hundreds of people, including government officials, to advocate for the rights of vulnerable minoritygroups. Children from all over Thailand were selected to take part in the workshop which included team building activities, discussions on human trafficking and the issue of statelessness. The girls were excited and energised to have the opportunity to voice their concerns to government officials and returned home hopeful that the opportunities for minority groups will improve Opportunities to get involved. To learn more about Friends of Thai Daughters and ways you can assist the amazing work of this organisation, please visit FTD’s website at www.friendsofthaidaughters.org
It costs approximately 2,500USD per year to provide each Daughter with food, transportation, clothing, books, and school fees. One way we help raise these funds is through our sponsorship programme. This can be done through sponsoring a Daughter with a group of friends, family members, colleagues or on your own. You can stay in touch through letters, emails and Skype calls. Please see our website for more information on sponsorship.
Along with financial assistance, we are looking for energetic, passionate and caring women who are interested in sharing their time and talent with our Daughters as short or long term volunteers in Chiang Rai and Chiang Khong. We especially welcome English teachers, musicians, photographers, sports enthusiasts and others with skills that they would like to share with girls and young women.
For more information, please contact us at