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  • Hiltribe education: The hilltribal youth group that uses performance arts to campaign against human trafficking. (Photo courtesy: CHULARAT SAENGPASSA/ The Nation)

Music, theatre and other arts are being used as a vibrant way of communicating anti-human trafficking messages to hilltribe children.
“The audience can easily understand our messages,” A-mee Biapa said.

This Lisu girl is a key member of We-Love-Hilltribe-Art Youth Group, which is associated with the Hill Area and Community Development Foundation of Chiang Rai, Thailand.

A student at the Rajabhat Chiang Rai University, A-mee is confident she can inspire younger hilltribe girls to follow her path and guard against becoming victims of human trafficking.

“We have the same background. We can communicate well,” A-mee said. “I wear hilltribe clothes when meeting the children”.

A-mee said her group campaigns against human trafficking and domestic violence.

"They risk being sold and resold to brothel after brothel."

“When the children confide in us, we alert community leaders,” A-mee said. Her group includes young people of the Akha, Yao, Lisu and Lahu hilltribes. They recently staged a performance at a mobile seminar in Chiang Rai.

The social development and human security ministry event is designed to illustrate how everyone can prevent human trafficking.

“We use art to communicate our message. Just delivering a speech can bore people,” said Chatchai Wittayabamrung, an adviser to the art group.

Chatchai composes songs for the campaign. “I show the lyrics to the children and listen to what they say. We then make adjustments and include the songs in plays.”

One of his songs, Pla aam pla khao, talks about how a hilltribe girl is lured into the flesh trade by the man she loves. After a life of misery, she returns to find her family and community still welcome her.

The group publishes a journal that details different forms of human trafficking, too. “We provide up-to-date news,” Yuwatida Yerser, an Akha girl on the editorial team, said.

After graduating from high school, she’s now hoping to pursue a mass communications degree. Her goal is to introduce hilltribe people to more news media. Although hilltribes are considered a minority, they number in the hundreds of thousands.

Patchara sae Fung, a fourth-year university student who plays a key role in the We-Love-Hilltribe-Art Youth Group, said her group tries to promote sufficiency among its audience. Otherwise girls will be tempted to enter the flesh trade for expensive, unnecessary items like cellphones or televisions.

Mae Sai immigration police superintendent colonel Jessada Yairun said some women agree to enter the flesh trade because they want to buy their parents new homes.

“They risk being sold and resold to brothel after brothel,” a Chiang Rai policeman said.

Records show that 130 hilltribe people have been rescued from human traffickers since 2003. (By CHULARAT SAENGPASSA In Chiang Rai/ Daily Express/ AsiaNews)

MySinchew 2008.08.02


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