Chaiya* and Kasem* were only 11 and six years old when they were trafficked and sold into a begging ring run by the Indian mafia in Bangkok, Thailand. They were beaten, tortured, and abused until Life Impact rescued them from those who only saw them as tools to make money. Today, though, they are thriving young men, married and living a life of freedom.
Traffickers use violence and manipulation to lure their victims and inflict upon them physical and psychological abuse. The victims often endure food and sleep deprivation, isolation, and even threats to family members.
That fear was all too real to Chaiya, whose family had escaped to Thailand from war-torn Burma. We first met him after rescuing a young girl in his family who was sold for $24. When we gave the little girl’s mother our phone number, Chaiya heard it and memorized it. He would call asking us to provide a rescue home for him and his brother, but we didn’t have one at that time. During one call, he told us he and his brother had been blindfolded and trafficked to Bangkok. They were forced to sell fruit and flowers in bars and nightclubs, and when they didn’t meet their quotas, they were beaten and abused. Kasem says he didn’t cry when they beat him, but he would cry when he got back to the home because he was afraid they would beat him again. They were kept in a home with a brother and sister who had also been trafficked. The boys were forced to watch as the traffickers tied the girl’s hands in the air and beat her.
We told Chaiya we were coming to Bangkok to find him and his brother. We told him if he could get away from the traffickers, to meet us at a prominent bus station. We even called his family after he asked us to. Little did we know his sister was the one who sold her brother in the first place, and she told the traffickers we were coming. When we got to Bangkok, we couldn’t find them until a taxi driver who previously worked for a special police unit helped us track down the phone number from which he had called. We searched all night and into the early morning hours but finally had to give up.
The next morning, our phone rang again. Chaiya had escaped. We told him to meet us at a nearby store, and when we got there, he came running out to us. He was so worried about his younger brother. He knew Kasem was at risk of being beaten and taken to a different traffickers house because his brother had escaped. We had to insist the police help us and we finally found the house and his brother inside. The boys were safe.
Chaiya and Kasem found a loving home at the Promise Land, growing up there, allowing them to experience being a child and growing into healthy young adults. They also came to know the Rescuer, Jesus.
Watch the video below to hear more of their story.