All posts in “ALPHA Team”

Meet Som: Northern Operations Manager, Thailand

By: Corinne Shark

Panyapat PiyathamsawatFreedom work is all-hands-on-deck and part of bringing you to the frontlines means bringing you in the front door of The Exodus Road offices. Today we are shining the spotlight on Panyapat “Som” Piyathamsawat, our Northern Thailand Operations Manager. As one of our national staff members, Som is an integral contributor to the function of the on-ground team in Southeast Asia. Prior to working with The Exodus Road she spent years in research, journalism and media analysis, produced television news, developed programming for USAID, and served as a freelance language translator. Som brings extensive experience in the value of trusted communication between collaborative sectors. She believes in the necessity of building relationships to achieve common goals. Som’s heart for the exploited impacts every aspect of her work and inspires hope in real and tangible ways.

What drew you to the cause of human trafficking?
My background experience in research and journalism made me aware of the infamous issue of trafficking here in Thailand, but at the end of the day the issue was still there. I was able to inform people but I wanted to participate in a concrete result. It was time for me to take the next step toward making an impact on peoples’ lives.

What is the most challenging part of this work for you?
Collecting enough credible evidence to convince the authorities to take action is always a challenge. Our job is to support the local police toward rescues and arrests which requires time, patience, good teamwork and trusted relationships. Good evidence without good relationships with law enforcement is worth nothing and so we work hard to build trust and solid partnerships. The Exodus Road has earned credibility and a positive reputation.

What has been most fulfilling?
Contributing to the team is exciting. For example, a group of 16 female leaders have been active in meeting the needs of the most vulnerable in their communities. Some are business owners, one holds an office and others serve their neighbors. I will be helping them understand the different forms of human trafficking and how they can help us identify those being victimized. We don’t know what’s happening in the smaller communities; but they do. Justice really is in the hands of the ordinary. I am an ordinary person and so are they.


ALPHA team in Thailand is comprised of managers, directors, a social worker, and investigators. Som’s role within this structure is to provide leadership and operational oversight, primarily to the investigators. We’re grateful for partners like Messenger International, whose community is helping to fund national salaries, like that of Som. We are also grateful to those who have joined ALPHA team and sponsor nights of investigation in this critical part of the world. This collaborative approach propels all of us closer to a world free of slavery. 

Human Trafficking Awareness Month: 3 Stories You Should Know (and Share)

By Julia Randall

A man stuck at sea, deceived and forced to labor long days under a hot Pacific sun.  A domestic servant who hasn’t seen the world outside the home where she works in almost a year.  A child who waits anxiously, unaware of what’s in store for her, as the price of her virginity is negotiated.  Despite different backgrounds and situations, these individuals are bound together by the chains of slavery and fates they did not choose.  Participate in Human Trafficking Awareness month by refusing to look away from the stories of those trapped in trafficking.

When he couldn’t find work in his native country in Asia, Troy* scraped together everything he could to pay a broker to find him work in a neighboring country.  When he arrived at his destination, however, he found it wasn’t the pineapple canning factory he’d been told about.  Instead, he was driven to a coastal port town and forced on a tiny, ramshackle boat to join other forced laborers in working 20 hours a day, seven days a week, hauling in nets heavy with fish before gutting and weighing them by hand.

Troy was told that his payment hadn’t covered his transportation costs, so he must work until he could repay his debt.  However, he has yet to receive any payment.  Shifted from boat to boat out at sea, he hasn’t seen land in almost three years.

troy HTAM

When she was seventeen, Angeline* lived on the crowded streets of a city in India, in desperate need of food and shelter.  Homeless after being kicked out of her home for disgracing her family, Angeline was elated when a woman claiming to be a recruiter offered her a job cleaning and caring for children in a well-to-do home in an upscale suburb.  When the door of the home that would become her jail was closed and locked behind her, so was her freedom and future.

Five years later, Angeline works 18 hours a day, every day of the week, performing a slew of household tasks.  If her work doesn’t meet her owner’s standards, she can expect a physical punishment and her body bears the scars of past mistakes, like the time she burned the rice, or when she tried to run away.

angeline HTAM

Tina* sits quietly in a stiflingly small and dirty room in a Cambodian brothel, wishing she could disappear.  She was smuggled from her home in Malaysia to this brothel a week ago, after her parents sold her to a trafficker.  She is an intelligent and feisty girl, but nothing in her rural upbringing prepared her for the forced sale of her virginity.  She doesn’t know the language used by her new mama san (pimp) and the men interested in her, but she can tell from their tones and gestures that they are all evaluating her and bargaining fiercely.

After the final sale of her virginity today, Tina will be less valuable to her mama san but will continue to be forced to work in the brothel.  She’s not yet turned 12.

tina HTAM

Troy, Angeline and Tina are not alone.  More slaves exist today than at any other time in human history.  Be an abolitionist by sharing this post to participate in Human Trafficking Awareness Month.  Use your voice to stand against slavery and share information from our website, Pinterest boards, Twitter account and Facebook page.  You can also find information to share on Instagram, You Tube, and Vimeo.

You can impact stories like these by taking a first step towards action by advocacy. Advocacy is utilizing your influence and voice on behalf of a cause or person you care about. Would you consider sharing online this post or any other interesting article or video about human trafficking with your circle of friends and family? The first step towards mobilizing a movement lies in educating people about it.

 

* Names and identifying information have been changed for security.  Each account is a composite profile of multiple human trafficking survivors.

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