Recently TNH shared a blog about our member Ragan Brooks’ charity choice titled, “When Georgia Smiles” (hyperlink to her blog). We are excited now to present members Erin Cottrell and Tawnia McKiernan’s blogs, which share the charities these ladies respectively support. Our second meeting for TNH is coming up in April, which means it is voting time, and we are thrilled to have members rallying behind these very important topics. If you haven’t sign our pledge and stay connected with what TNH is doing in the community! We appreciate your support and are always excited to hear your comments and points of view in the comments below!
The Hug Project by Erin Cottrell
Have you ever thought of leaving LA to pursue something truly worthy, yet utterly foreign and possibly life threatening? …Something that would make a real difference to human kind?
I might dally in that noble dream for a minute and then lazily get sucked back into my morning latte and traffic woes. But my friend Heather actually did it! She left her comfortable job as a Hollywood script supervisor to work in northern Thailand as a case manager helping to rehabilitate victims of human trafficking and sexual abuse.
She works for the HUG Project, and when she contacted me last year about everything she was doing to save these women and children, I was blown away.
The Meaning of HUG
“Hug” is a northern Thai word that means love. It is also an acronym for Hope, Understanding, and Grace. These are qualities that the HUG Project believes are essential to helping children who are coming from situations of exploitation and abuse to reach full restoration.
The HUG project focuses on Prevention, Intervention and After Care. Their goal is “to prevent, and protect children from domestic violence, exploitation, sex trafficking and abuse.”
They also help capture pedophiles and free victims of human trafficking by collaborating with Child and Women Protection and Anti Human Trafficking Unit Royal Thai Police Unit 5. They provide legal counseling, short-term housing and a true community for the victims of these atrocious crimes.
Here’s why I believe The New Hollywood can back this organization 100%:
1. It helps to liberate women and children from sexual and domestic abuse.
2. It creates an environment of education, support and emotional rehabilitation that gives the survivors tools to empower themselves.
3. It was founded by a Thai woman named Boom Bean in 2011 who was nominated by the State Department for “International Woman of Courage 2014” and was chosen to be a speaker at TEDx Chiang Mai.
Our money could go to any number of areas needing funding, and Heather assured me that we could choose specifically where it would land.
Some options are:
-The education center, where we could fund science, art, music and life skills classes.
-Hiring a Thai social worker to connect with the rescued children.
-Rent for the house used as a designated advocacy center, where the children are guided through the legal system to face their abusers and get the emotional help they need.
- A buttonhole camera to take into brothels, bars and massage parlors when doing investigations. (Evidently, the local police don’t have a budget for this.)
Or we could leave the distribution up to the HUG Project to allot it where it’s needed most…
I’d hope that it would go towards something like the investigation HUG spearheaded last year, resulting in a group of monks getting defrocked and jailed for 20 years for trading young boys between temples.
I was shocked to read about that, but reminded all to quickly of the covert sexual manipulation that occurs in so many religious institutions where children are involved, both abroad and right here in our backyard.
As a mother of a young child, my heart can’t hold it anymore when I hear these stories. I am so grateful that organizations like the HUG project exist. And that brave women, like my friend Heather, are out there to take the reins, and lead the children out of a kind of hell and into a safe and loving harbor.
To learn more, go to http://www.thaiconnections.org/project-hug
Or visit their facebook page https://www.facebook.com/hugprojectthailand?fref=ts
*Please note that not all experiences, beliefs and ideas are shared by each member of the “The New Hollywood.” We are a group of shepherds, not sheep.