I have recently returned from northern Thailand where I trekked into five remote Hill Tribe villages. Despite the beauty of the landscape and the smiles of the people, there is a dark undercurrent of fear, abuse and abandonment. Within these communities, human trafficking is a common reality.
Because tribal members are actually displaced persons, mainly from Burma and China, they are not recognized as citizens of Thailand, they have no nationality and no legal rights in the country in which they live.
These poverty-stricken communities are exploited, abused and neglected. Adults and children are sold into forced labour and the sex trade. Children are especially vulnerable as their families and communities are unable to provide for their safety and well-being.
I photographed with internationally renowned photographer, Mickey Choothesa who founded and runs the non-profit organization, COSA, Children’s Organization of Southeast Asia, that provides shelter and education for child victims. He works closely with these disadvantaged Hill Tribe communities to promote the value of education in providing a positive future.
With these images, I hope to raise awareness of a problem that exists not only in Thailand, but is becoming more visible in other countries (including Canada as reported in recent events). It is my hope that the sale of my photos can raise funds that will be donated to COSA to help support the girls who deserve a chance at a better life.