I wear a ring on my finger that says Not For Sale. Actually, it  falls off in the shower and I have to keep reminding myself to put it back on. So my favourite strategy is to put it on my keyboard, where I found it a moment ago.

Not For Sale Ring

All of which reminds me of our trip to Thailand in May, where we worked in a Thai orphanage and filmed the people who run it. This video, embedded from Not For Sale’s current campaign, is a wonderful introduction to the amazing kids, staff and organizers who we worked with:

To call it  a memorable trip is a cliche, perhaps a masterpiece of understatement. The chief organizer, Kru Nam, founded the orphanage with children she rescued out of the brothels 0f Chiang Mai. She also made my ring, all of which is a story well worth telling.

Kru Nam with my wife Annette and two of my photography students. NB: These girls did not come to the home via sex trafficking

Kru Nam is an artist. She had only just graduated with a degree in fine arts when she started working with street kids. She wasn’t prepared for the disturbing content of the art they made, and yet her response was extraordinary. She began walking kids out of brothels. After getting 25 kids out, brothel owners threatened her life. She moved north of Chiang Rai, and began building an extraordinary village and an organization called The Volunteers For Children’s Development. She all but left art. But lately her work has been underwritten by the Not For Sale Foundation, which has given her a little time to get back to her jewellery practice. The ring pulls all parts of the story together.

Belonging is the idea that most touched me during my stay. Rather than “fix” kids, Kru Nam’s genius is to let them be, surrounded by 125 brothers and sisters.

We expected to find wounded kids. We expected trust issues, in particular. And we did see kids like that. But we were entirely unprepared for the vast majority who showered us with affection and honour. I miss them to no end today. These are the kids we met, taught, loved and learned from. And if you feel the urge to help them, check out Not For Sale’s current campaign. I gave today because of the lessons I learned watching Kru Nam at work. Here it is: You can’t change the world; but everyone can contribute to picking up some of the pieces.

Lorbea, Aka, Brothers
Three of my favourite little rascals, proudly showing off in front of the library.

If you’d like to learn more, check out “Not For Sale”, David Batstone’s exciting book that launched a global movement.


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