When she was just 14 years old, Jun took a big leap—she left her home, her friends, her family, and moved to the city. Her bravery and willingness to take such an enormous risk at such a young age would change her life.
The small village in Thailand where she grew was full of people and things she loved—her parents, the picturesque rice paddies and swaying fields of corn her community farmed. But her village didn’t afford Jun all the opportunities she needed and desired. Jun wanted to finish her education, and that wasn’t a typical thing for a girl.
“The older people in my community think girls cannot learn much,” said Jun, “they do not think that it is useful to put girls through college. They marry them off and send them to work in the fields or karaoke bars. They think that boys are number one, boys can do anything.”
But Jun never let this discouraging attitude get her down or prevent her from pursuing her goals. When she got to the city, she moved into a home with other young girls like her, called Baan Tan Tawan, or Sunflower House, that was run and supported by Global G.L.O.W. partner Friends of Thai Daughters (FTD). FTD works throughout Northern Thailand to provide safe shelter, education, and support to girls, especially those in extreme danger of being trafficked.
During her time at Sunflower House, Jun engaged in Global G.L.O.W. programming, along with other girls in the house. Jun revealed that through her involvement in GLOW clubs, she eventually grew confident enough to recognize her own aptitude for leadership. She gradually, naturally, started to step into a more influential role, doing the work of nurturing and supporting other girls of FTD as both she and they grew to be brave and proud of their identities, their intelligence, and the skills they were working so hard to acquire.
Jun had a particularly special mentor during her time at Sunflower House, a woman named Aoy, who encouraged her as she developed her self-assurance and started to help others involved with FTD. Jun and several of her friends from the organization, with the guidance of Aoy and the support of Global G.L.O.W., saw a need to do more than encourage the other girls around them. In 2018, they came together to create a plan to help empower girls, which they called Rainbow House.
Designed to provide programming for “leaders” (older girls aged 11-17) as well as “little ones” (children of all genders aged 4-10), Rainbow House is a welcoming community center and safe space for girls that almost seemed like a natural extension of the efforts Jun and her friends were already making during their time at Sunflower House. In total, 60 children and young people have joined the program.
Rainbow House currently hosts both morning and afternoon sessions each day, with talks and activities specially geared toward each age group. In the mornings, the more mature girls gather to discuss serious humanitarian issues that directly affect them and their communities—topics like human trafficking, reproductive health, climate change, environmental sustainability, and child rights. For many of the discussions, specialists in various fields, like social workers, health care workers, and experts from NGOs, come to share their knowledge and insight with the older group of girls. In the afternoons, leaders work on a variety of activities, like learning to make reusable sanitary pads, hygienic face masks, and hair bands—things they use in their everyday lives.
The “little ones” focus on their Thai language lessons in the morning (many grow up speaking different tribal languages at home), along with basic math and science, hygiene, and other fundamental life skills. And in the afternoons, the younger children have dedicated time to color, paint, create arts and crafts projects, and play games outdoors.
Today, Jun is flourishing, and still works closely with the Rainbow House project. She is now a junior advisor for the sheltered girls of FTD who run activities for the members of Rainbow House. She steps in to personally lead special events together with those FTD participants and Global G.L.O.W. mentors.
As busy as Jun is—still pursuing her education, working with Rainbow House and FTD, and traveling home to help out her community—she and Aoy still make time for each other and have a strong, close mentor/mentee relationship to this day. Jun wants to continue to share the kind of positivity, mentorship, and opportunities she benefited from with the next generation of girls, and so keep this cycle of learning, sharing, coaching, gardening, and goodness going long into the future.