Pattaya Daily News

20 June 2008 :: 14:06:07 pm 29135

Wood River Grad Lends A Hand To Thai Children

Seventeen-year-old Lindsay Mason describes Thailand as the "land of smiles." But Thailand has a darker side, a flourishing industry that specializes in providing children for sex.
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Child sex is illegal in Thailand, but the law is too often ignored. Parents have been known to sell their daughters for paltry sums, as low as a few hundred dollars. Thailand’s child sex trade is nurtured by tourists to go to the Southeast Asian country specifically to have sex with children.

Mason, a 2008 Wood River High School graduate who lived in Thailand as an exchange student during her junior year, is dedicated to doing something about the sordid situation. On Monday, she presented more than $4,000 to an orphanage near Bangkok that helps keep children off the streets and provides a refuge for some that have been rescued from the sex trade.

Mason raised the money for the Pattaya Orphanage as her high school senior project.

“I really have a passion for Thailand,” Mason told the Idaho Mountain Express on Wednesday after arriving back in Hailey on Tuesday night. “I have a passion for helping people get out of the sex trade and for doing something that gets kids off the streets.”

Mason said teenage prostitutes are common on the streets of Bangkok. Even younger children are sometimes sold for the sex trade.

Mason worked as a volunteer at the Pattaya Orphanage during her year in Thailand and hopes to return to the country to continue her work if she’s accepted at the International University in Bangkok.

One of her immediate goals is to become fluent in the language. She could hardly speak it when she first arrived in the fall of 2006.

“If I’m fluent I can help out more,” she said. “When I first got there I only knew how to say hello, so it was pretty hard. But after about three months I was able to pick it up. I’m not fluent but I know enough to get around and have short conversations with people.”

Lindsey Mason, a 2008 Wood River High School graduate, donated $4,090 on Monday to an orphanage in Thailand that is dedicated to keeping the country?s youngsters out of a flourishing child sex trade. Mason, who lives in Hailey, raised the money for the Pattaya Orphanage near Bangkok as her high school senior project. Shown here, back row from left, are Lindsey?s father Scott Mason, her sister Adeliade Mason and her mother Anne Mason. Lindsey is shown at center presenting the donation to Radchada Chomjinda, orphanage administrator. In the foreground are some of the 165 children who live at the orphanage. Photo by Courtesy photoMason made her return trip to Thailand this month and spent two weeks there with her parents, Scott and Anne Mason, and her sister Adeliade.

Mason’s parents helped with fundraising by holding “Thai night” at the Ketchum Grill, a restaurant that they own. Funds were also raised through the sale of professional quality photographs that were taken in Thailand by Mason’s uncle. She also raised money through private donations.

“Returning to Thailand, seeing my host family, friends and the children of Pattaya has been really rewarding,” she said. “Sharing this experience with my parents and those who generously supported me back home feels great. There is still important work to be done here and I encourage people to continue to look for opportunities to stay involved.”

Regardless of the child sex industry, Mason said there’s also a beautiful side to Thailand.

“I had almost forgotten how much I missed this place,” Mason wrote on her blog site. “How much I missed the feel of my bare feet padding along the cool stones of the temples. How much I missed the exploding flavors of each Thai dish that hit my tongue. How much I missed the humidity that filled my senses with each breath.

“But most of all, how much I missed the smiles on each and every person’s face.”

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : Internet   Category : World News

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