The Golden Triangle: a trafficking triangle
Tears & Dreams: the “girls of the mountain” come back to life in the Golden Triangle. The triangle indicates the border between Thailand, Laos and Myanmar, along the Mekong river. It is not just a wonderful place, full of temples and ancient monuments. Here, we have an intersection of the worst kinds of trafficking: drugs, sex slavery, kidnapping.
Governments try to intervene, but what is rotten is difficult to remove. And clients are not usually local people, they are “tourists” that come from the West.
Without a doubt, tourists feed trafficants. They are now halted by Covid, but they are ready to return as soon as possible. “Sexual tourism” is the worst way to kill little girls in their hearts. When I asked him: “why do you do this?”, a European man told me: “I help the girl and her family, they can have a house and live better…” But at what price? Selling yourself at 8/10 years?
In this area, another form of “tourism” concerns opium. The roads of opium found a home in past decades. There was already some extent of traditional use – the nuns tell that when they were children, living on the run in the forest, they received opium for stomachache or toothache. It then became a business that pays well, so wide areas were destined to the cultivation of poppies, and many people started to accompany “tourists.”
A third form of unsustainable tourism would seem innocuous at first: herds of photographs run to false villages where “giraffe women” are kept. They carry heavy collars that make the neck longer, to the point of disarticulating vertebrae, for the purpose of being photographed by tourists. But there is nothing traditional about giraffe women. They were taken and brought there by relatives, sold and bought to please tourists. They lost their dreams and the will to leave.
Nuns on the frontline
That’s right: a group of nuns, Sisters of Providence, from Myanmar, Brazil and China, are there to help the little girls to go from tears to dreams, helped also by a Buddhist monk. The “girls of the mountain” come back to life. They succeed, sometimes with difficulty, to free the little girls – who carry the first collar at 3-4 years old – and they start a long and slow work to help them build their personality and overcome deepest wounds.
The nuns say that the hardest thing is to get the girls to smile again: it can take up to one or two years. Then it all gets easier.
The welcoming centre should have 20 girls, but there are 40. And many others are waiting for a place to come back to life.
Trae & Dreams: the documentary
When Sr Sandra asked me to tell their story, I immediately said yes. Shortly after, I left with the cinematographer, Ferran Paredes Rubio, and Andrea Morghen. We went around for days, showing the trafficking of opium, that of girls, and the village of the “giraffe women.”
It was emotionally though. We have a camera in front of little Stella, 6 years old, the scars of the collar were still visible, the tears of an unimaginable suffering… But she wanted to tell her story. We wanted to leave, or to have her play some football. But she said: “You need to tell the world about us!”. What a responsibility.
That is how “Tears & Dreams” was born: a documentary that has travelled the world in 24 international festivals and won 5 important awards. The most recent one was in these days: Best Documentary in Sochi, Russia. And it is still on the road thanks to PUFF Film Festival in Hong Kong.
Tears & Dreams: the “girls of the mountain” come back to life with The Inn of Happiness
Tears & Dreams: the “girls of the mountain” come back to life with The Inn of Happiness The story starts from a dream, this time the nuns’ dream: giving a real future to the girls, in order for them to have a formation, a concrete job, and thus an ID.
This dream got a name, “The Inn of the Sixth Happiness,” from the film with Ingrid Bergman, where a similar thing got built. The nuns will build a restaurant a professional training school for the girls, on the northern point of the Golden Triangle.
The film supports the project, making many people aware of the project. The first donors have already stepped forward, thanks to the Archdioceses of Trento, and the nuns are about to buy the land.
We know that the dream will shortly become a reality, with the help of everyone.