By Laura Swanson
As everyone joins their families for Thanksgiving, the Crosman family will enjoy a final few days with daughter Katie as she prepares to fly half way around the world to Thailand on November 30th. Katie Crosman, a Neah-Kah-Nie High School graduate, during a backpacking trip to Southeast Asia in 2007, encountered posters and propaganda about human trafficking that she found puzzling. “The posters show a man holding the hand of a small boy, and said something like ‘If you see this, report it to authorities.’ And I was like ‘What?’ No way, it’s just a bad movie. But, unfortunately, I soon learned that it’s not exaggerated and in fact, the problem with human trafficking in Southeast Asia is even worse than how it’s depicted in the movies,” Crosman explained. “That’s when I first had an idea to volunteer there, to do something about it.”
Crosman will be volunteering with an organization called “Development & Education Program for Daughters & Community”, or DEPDC, that has been doing human trafficking prevention work in the northern hills of Thailand for 25 years. DEPDC programs include a school and orphanage, as many of the victims, or potential victims, are often abandoned by their families. “It’s such a deprived area,” said Crosman. “The tribes in the hills are often approached by the traffickers and the families sell their own children for the price of the television.” The DEPDC “rescues” many potential victims to provide a safe environment, an education, teaching life skills and ways toward employment. Crosman will be teaching English and part of her requirement is to develop a program, so she will also teach yoga. A certified yoga instructor and part owner of Manzanita’s Yoga Roots studio, for Crosman being able to reach these children with the meditation powers of yoga was a particular bonus. “Yoga can give these kids a strength and ability to deal with the terrible things that have happened to them, besides the health and wellness benefits,” she enthused.
Crosman has been busy learning the Thai language, a requirement of the program. She will spend 6 months in Thailand, teaching, assisting with tours and presentations, grants and fundraising, doing education and outreach to raise awareness about human trafficking and, of course, developing the yoga program for the kids. She will provide updates on her Facebook page about her experiences – “Subhadra Ann” is her Facebook name. “Subhadra” was the name given to her by Yoga guru Vishva Ji after she completed her 500 hours of yoga training. “If you want to participate, he meditates, taps into the universal wi-fi and downloads your spiritual path,” explained Crosman. “My name means ‘beautiful warrior greatly blessed.’” She continued, “And I am blessed. So many people are making sacrifices to help me accomplish this, in particular my business partner in Yoga Roots, Charlene Gernert is beyond great.”
Yoga Roots will host guest teachers to cover Crosman’s classes while she is in Thailand. “It’s such a privilege to be able to do something like this,” said Crosman. “I’m really grateful for the support, and I hope that this radiates and inspires other people to be the best you can be,” she added. “Everyone asks if I’m excited, and I am, but I don’t really know the right word … scared? Maybe, but my biggest fear is to not really have made an impact or made a difference,” Crosman gathered her thoughts, “I want to make sure I give as much of myself to this as I can. This isn’t about me. I really want people to be aware about this. Human trafficking is all around us, even here. Portland has one of the largest human trafficking problems in the country.”
For more information about Katie Crosman’s Thailand volunteer work, follow her on Facebook – ‘Subhadra Ann’ and like DEPDC/GMS on Facebook.