Congratulations to 17 year old Kelsey Baines who raised almost $48,000 in just one night, to help rescue girls from the child sex trade in Thailand by providing them with a stable home, education, health care and food.
“My aim was to raise enough money to rescue two girls from the brothels,” said Kelsey. “COSA (Children’s Organisation of Southeast Asia) approximated that it would cost $1500 for each girl to be rescued. I can’t believe how much I’ve surpassed that original goal.”
Kelsey raised the money at a charity event held at the Arawan Thai Restaurant in the Sydney suburb of Ryde on the 18th of July 2013. All the money raised on the night went to Hands Across the Water, an Australian charity founded by Kelsey’s dad, former police forensic specialist Peter Baines, in the wake of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami which left many Thai children alone and homeless.
Working with the tsunami disaster victim identification team, Peter Baines was deeply touched by the number of children left homeless and at risk by the natural disaster. The dinner and awareness night organised by Kelsey, raised enough money to provide 32 at risk children with food, education and health care for one year.
Every year between up to 4 million children are trafficked around the world with Thailand being one of the prime locations for child trafficking. The exploitation of children is driven by poverty, official corruption, gender discrimination and natural disasters.
Girls are especially vulnerable to being trafficked because they are often less educated, easy to overpower and taught to obey adults. For the girls born into the Thai trafficking industry, they are not recognised as citizens by the government and are therefore unable to buy land of their own. The homes built by Hands will help put an end to the cycle of Thai women who have been trafficked giving birth to state-less girls who are then trafficked themselves.
In the first years of its existence Hands Across the Water raised more than $7 million without spending a cent of donors’ money on administration or marketing. The charity’s first orphanage Baan Tharn Namchai in Phang-Nga, a town on Thailand’s northern Andaman coast, was opened in August 2006. A girls-only building was added in January 2009. Today, the charity supports hundreds of children in multiple locations across Thailand.
Kelsey recently returned from a trip to Thailand, with her high school friend Kobi, to see what is being done with the money raised from the charity dinner and to enlighten her friend on the work Hands is doing. Kelsey was motivated by her father’s passion for the charity and decided to spend a month volunteering at the homes in Thailand.
“Every time I go to Thailand I come back so much more appreciative of what I have here but this time was different. It really opened my eyes to the business side of Hands. I was curious about how it works and I paid attention to how it could improve,” said Kelsey.
“I’m doing this to provide new hope and possibilities for these girls. It’s surreal to think that by changing even one life, you can influence their broader communities and generations to come.”