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2012 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Urban Light

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Children & Youth, Children & Youth Services

Mission: Rehabilitate victims of sexual exploitation

Results: UL has recently inaugurated the new Youth Center and has incorporated new programming and on-going support and care. Our number of participants continues to increase based on word-of-mouth throughout the red light district.

Target demographics: Male youth who are victims of sex-trafficking, child prostitution and commercial sexual exploitation. Also at-risk male youth ages 14-24.

Geographic areas served: Chiang Mai, Thailand

Programs: Life Skill Training: Communication, Anger Mgmt, Health Awareness, Hygiene, Money Mgmt. English Training: Basic English language skill-building Case Management Health Services + Testing Night Outreach in Red Light District

Community Stories

15 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1

Donor

Rating: 5

What an amazing group of people! I am so happy to have found urban light and they continue to touch my heart even thousands of miles away. Since being a volunteer last summer, I have held fundraisers here at home on the boys behalf. I continue to keep in contact with the staff and some of the boys and receive regular updates on their progress. Alezandra and her staff are amazing people and do everything they can to make a the world a better place for the boys. The boys are a joy to work with, so loving and open to new volunteers. I plan to return to Thailand soon and in the meantime I will do anything I can to help out stateside!

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I had the privilege to spend 5 weeks as a volunteer in Chiang Mai with Urban Light. The Staff are amazing, such kind hearted people who go above and beyond to improve the lives of the boys at the center and reach out to new boys in need! The founder and center mom, Alezandra had such a huge heart and has dedicated her life to an important issue that does not get nearly enough attention or help. The boys are so amazing and have changed my life in so many ways. I have volunteered in several organizations and this was by far the best experience I have had. My only regret is I couldn't stay longer!!!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was blessed to be part (and will be as much as i can) of this fantastic organization. The love, energy they have here for these boys is just amazing. I had a wonderful time and great experience. It felt so good to do this and made me want for more. So i will continue to do what ever i can to help Urban Light. The great time i had with the boys them self and the wonderfull staff of UL. Alex YOU ROCK ! Support from The Netherlands will alwasy be there, and cant wait to be back !!

Elliot G.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Fantastic organization. I have been volunteering here for the past two months and have seen firsthand the individualistic approach Urban Light takes with each boy that walks through the center's doors. From helping the boys find jobs to providing a safe space and a meal everyday I see that the work is definitely making a difference in so many lives. Without Urban Light, a very vulnerable population would not be served in Chiang Mai. Exploitation of boys is SO REAL and I am thankful that Urban Light exists to help. So proud to be involved in this organization and am looking forward to serving as a volunteer for many months to come!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Urban Light is an incredible organization that works not only inspire the boys it serves directly, but to inspires others to rethink their capacities to serve others. Alezandra, the founder, is an amazing woman who acts as a mother to the boys, and pours her heart and energy into everything she does for them. I have been honored to see her in action from the start and I am constantly inspired by the dreams and constant love she has and pours into the boys and the staff. With her passion, Alezandra has a team of wonderful individuals that serve to love and care for the boys. It is easy to see how this organization has grown so much in just a few years.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The energy at Urban Light is invigorating! I am so glad I had the opportunity to be part of the change Urban Light is creating! The young men who access Urban Light's resources have left a life-long impact on my life. I will forever be an advocate of Urban Light!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Urban Light is the perfect example of how in the saddest, darkest situations compassion can triumph an beauty can be restored. I saw first hand Alezandra's (and the rest of the UL team) commitment to improving the lives of so many and addressing their needs.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Working with Urban Light was one of the most inspiring and fulfilling experiences that I have undertaken. Alezandra and her team work tirelessly to improve the quality of life that these young boys have, in providing a safe, happy and family environment that these boys so desperately crave. This organisation is a true blessing!

Orit T.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I spent a few days working with Urban Light while on a social justice trip and the entire experience was life changing and eye opening. Urban Light makes such a difference in the lives of the boys they work with, the work they do is amazing and inspiring beyond words!

Gabriella G.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This past summer I had the opportunity to travel to Chiang Mai, Thailand and work with the NGO Urbanlight. A sophomore in high school at the time (now a junior) the experience of working directly with Alezandra Russell and the boys at the Chiang Mai center was amazing and the friendships made were life-changing. The team at Urbanlight continually amazes me in their persistance to never give up on the boys and to continueto support them through any and all struggles. It was an honor to witness the transformation of the boys' lives through the work of the Urbanlight team and the many resulting accomplishments and achievements. Urbanlight has many incredible accomplishments thus far and I look forward to seeing and hearing of the many more lives Urbanlight will transform in the future. I hope and plan to be able to work with Urbanlight for many years to come. I applaud the Urbanlight team and the boys for all they have done!! For more information check out the website www.urban-light.org

Hersh K.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I had the wonderful opportunity to volunteer with Urban Light during the summer of 2012 and was truly touched both by Alezandra's moving story as well as the incredible spirit of the boys she works with. A lot of emphasis is placed on the female gender when it comes to the issue of trafficking in the sex trade and while it is imperative to address that issue what often goes unnoticed is how it can effect the young male population as well. Alezandra is truly changing the lives of a very underserved group of fine young men and it was my honour to have met and worked alongside them. If you are looking for an organization to work with that will make your time in Thailand meaningful and unforgettable then look no further then Urban Light in Chiang Mai!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I had the opportunity to volunteer at Urban Light's Youth Center for 5 weeks during the summer of 2011. The staff was welcoming and was open to learning how my skills could be useful to the organization. As with any international volunteer experience, volunteers need to think about what skills they can bring if they are not fluent in Thai. Seeing the difference in the impact and experience of the short term vs. long term volunteers, I would recommend committing to staying for at least a few weeks. It will improve your experience and to make the time the staff take out of their day to help orient and support you worth it. It won't be difficult to stay though, because once you are in Thailand and volunteering at Urban Light - you won't want to leave!

Rachel67

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I traveled to Thailand with Justifi, a volunteer organization, during the summer of 2012. I was lucky to meet and spend time with the volunteers and clients of Urban Light in Chiang Mai. The young men who are involved in this organization are truly amazing! A number of them have left their prior "city jobs" behind to become youth leaders, mentoring other boys "on the job." Urban Light provides amazing tangible services, but more importantly it provides love, support, and a safe space to the boy of Chiang Mai. I feel lucky to know and work with them and you will too!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Two summers ago, my sister and I both in our youth, spent our time traveling throughout Thailand experiencing the culture and location. Alexandra Russell is a very dear and old family friend, and my sister and I had planned a two day visit to Chaing Mai; but upon our welcomed arrival we realized that this place was more beautiful than any temple. That was because of the light inside this brilliant organization, Alexandra and her team were so generous and kind to us! Hanging out with the boys and realizing that they were my age and dressed fashionably and rode motorcycles took the idea that all victims of sexual abuse look battered and starving. These boys were funny, and kind and it made me realize that sexual abuse can happen and does happen to people the very same age as me. Urban Light is a beautiful organization that brings a face to ugly side of sexual trafficking, and give boys a chance to change and become something truly amazing and inspiring for them, and everyone around them.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've worked with Alezandra and her team in Chiang Mai numerous times over the past couple years and the work they are doing with their boys is simply remarkable. They've created a safe space and a home for an often-overlooked population of boys, all of whom have amazing potential and Urban Light is helping to unlock it. Their staff are some of the most positive, proactive, and kick-butt personalities in Southeast Asia and are on the leading edge of the non-profit space - definitely check them out and support them if you can!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I traveled to Thailand a little over a year ago because I wanted to learn about Human Trafficking. While I was there, my group and I met with Alezandra Russell, the founder of Urban Light, and she was able to tell us all about the organization. They work with Boys who are victims of Sexual Exploitation in Chiang Mai, Thailand. It was amazing to me learn about that because I had no idea that boys were being sexually exploited. They help teach them basic life skills, English, baking, they give the boys people to talk to, they do medical checks, and they do anything they can to get them real jobs. It is such an amazing organization. I went back this past January and spent a couple weeks at the Youth Center. I was able to make great connections with the boys and just give them a positive male role model to look up to. They really changed my life and really opened my eyes to a really big issue. I still help Urban Light as much as I can, here in America. Also, I definitely plan on going back to Thailand because those boys really made an impact on me and I want to go back and be able to work with them more. You can learn more about Urban Light at www.urban-light.org or on Facebook at UrbanLight.