Issues for a New Generation Published on January 3, 2016

Foundation Associate Fiona Servaes attended the international conference, “Communication/Culture and The Sustainable Development Goals: Challenges for a New Generation,”  in December at Chiang Mai University in Thailand. Approximately 90 academics attended from all over the world, primarily from Asia. She was also fortunate to give a presentation at the “Focus on Thailand” panel about her paper on “Sex Trafficking Issues in Thailand.” Her presentation highlighted the lack of awareness and research about boys as trafficking victims. “I received great feedback from those who attended and this started an interesting discussion about sex tourism in Thailand,” Fiona commented.

Fiona Servaes (second from left) at Urban Lights

Fiona Servaes (second from left) at Urban Light

She also went on field visits to two NGO’s in Chiang Mai: Urban Light and Thai Freedom House. Fiona has volunteered for Urban Light, an NGO where boys who are sex trafficking victims and at risk of trafficking and exploitation can get vital support. “As I have been helping Urban Light remotely for the past six months, I was very excited to see the youth center,” said Fiona. “Elliot, one of the volunteers at the center, gave us a tour of the building. We then discussed the sex trafficking issue in Chiang Mai and read three cases of boys who had come to the center for support. They all dealt with sad issues like drug abuse, sexual abuse or homelessness. It was inspiring to learn how Urban Light is helping boys like them lead a better life.”

Thai Freedom House, is a language and arts community learning center for refugees from Myanmar (Burma) and members of minority groups in Thailand. “When we arrived we were immediately served some wonderful Burmese food by Lisa, the founder of Thai Freedom House,” Fiona recounted. “While we ate, she explained the issue among refugees in the community and I was amazed at all the different projects she is working on at the center despite only having one intern helping her!

“The last day of the conference everyone agreed that it was a great success. I’m glad that I got the opportunity to attend, present and learn more about specific research surrounding the Sustainable Development Goals by communication experts.”

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