FFI works to change conditions that allow exploitation to exist. We believe in a holistic approach to giving people the opportunity to be free from oppression through prevention, intervention, and restoration programs.
FFI values community-based approaches to programming that encourages and empowers locals to utilize their God-given strengths and abilities. If a local church, organization, or government agency is already working in a certain area, we take their lead, learn from their experience, and come alongside them where beneficial. One area where we are seeking to build local capacity is in a nearby village comprised of an ethnic minority group requesting social and economic training programs.
FFI is privileged to run the Child Advocacy Centre Phuket, which is an inter-organizational entity that fights for the rights of children at risk of abuse or exploitation. Through the CAC Phuket, our social worker and staff hold educational trainings in local elementary and junior high schools where students can learn the dangers of internet-based exploitation, personal rights against inappropriate touch and abuse, and how to protect themselves and their friends.
Many people are still unaware of the realities of exploitation in our world today. FFI seeks to empower this generation with the knowledge needed to end global oppression. Through FFI Exposure Trips, internships, and Justice Semesters, we are seeking to provide first-hand education on the difficult realities faced by millions of people each day and how we can work together to shine God’s light in the darkness.
We also want to provide you with resources to help bring awareness to your friends, family, and network of the need to advocate for the exploited. We offer resources for awareness campaigns and social media fundraisers, tools and information, and event hosting ideas to energize your efforts in being a part of what FFI is doing to break the chains of oppression.
Child Advocacy Center
The Child Advocacy Center Phuket, located at our FFI office, is a safe and child-friendly place where young victims of trafficking, abuse, or exploitation are able to speak to a trained forensic interviewer about the trauma that the child has experienced or witnessed. During the child-friendly interview, investigative law enforcement and social workers supervise from a separate room to build case evidence against the offender(s) that can lead to arrest and prosecution. Throughout the case, the children stay in a safe location and receive proper care. The ongoing safety and well being of children is our priority.
Research shows the harmful long-term effects that institutionalized care has on children, but the idea of foster care is still quite a new concept in Thailand. Because of that, FFI is working alongside local authorities to begin the first formal foster care program in Southern Thailand. Throughout 2020, we will be screening willing families from the local church and then training them according to international standards of fostering. Our hope is to see the orphaned, abandoned, and vulnerable children of Phuket staying in safe and loving homes rather than in shelters or on the streets until a permanent placement can be found for them.
FFI recognizes the importance of building trust and deepening relationships with the women who experience exploitation in the red-light district of Phuket, one of the top sex tourism destinations in SE Asia. Building trust is a long process in Thai culture, and it is especially difficult among those who have significant trauma in their lives, like many if not most of the people who work in the bars here. We want to remove as many barriers in the way of trust as possible, so FFI values conducting bar outreach in the Thai language and led by members of the local church. We hope to become trusted people in the lives of these women, which will then enable us to extend invitations to our vocational training program and, ultimately, to share the love of Jesus.
Women from African and Eastern European countries who come to Thailand to work are often tricked into a life of sexual exploitation and simply cannot find a way to return to their home countries. When we encounter these women in Phuket, usually through a referral from the national trafficking hotline, FFI walks them through the legal and logistical procedures required in order for them to leave Thailand, and we provide care and emotional support during this process. We also help connect these women with organizations in their home countries that can help them rebuild their lives with dignity and strength.
Vocational Training Program
The FFI Vocational Training Program provides a thorough and intensive ten-month education in the hair styling and baking industries. The professional training in hair styling and baking runs simultaneously with between four and six students in each track, and each week the students also come together for classes in discipleship, English, life skills. Life skills covers a variety of topics from health and hygiene to communication to personal finance and business. We desire our students to be as prepared as possible to thrive in a dignified career and to take good care of themselves and their families.
Our students have a wide variety of backgrounds, some being at-risk, others having experienced severe poverty or sexual exploitation. They have different ages, genders, ethnic heritage, and religions, but our Vocational Training Program is a safe place for them to learn, grow, and develop their intrinsic potential while being exposed to the love God has for them. Students without children stay in the FFI Safe House for the duration of the program, and everyone has the opportunity to receive regular counselling and to participate in church activities.
Business Apprenticeships and Loans
After our vocational training students graduate from the program, FFI offers two of the most suitable graduates a one-year apprenticeship in our retail shops, either Cornerstone Bakery or Grace Salon. Apprentices have the opportunity to earn continued income, sharpen their skills, serve salon or cafe customers, and help to teach the next group of vocational training students.
For the students not offered an apprenticeship with FFI, we walk alongside them after graduation to apply for jobs in the hair or baking industries or encourage them to continue in their practical work experience placements.
Many of our students wish to open their own businesses, and through our Savings and Loan program, graduates are also given the opportunity to apply or a small business loan to help become strong and independent entrepreneurs.