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Review for The Freedom Story, Oakland, CA, USA

Rating: 4 stars  

Prevention work of any kind is not glamorous. It takes special individuals dedicated to the long haul who can see the power and potential in the slow daily grind. The Freedom Story is made up of exactly those kind of individuals.
I had the wonderful privilege of interning with The Freedom Story in Chiang Rai, Thailand this summer. After being involved with multiple non-profit organizations over the years, it was a breath of fresh air to work with an organization that was truly committed to ethical storytelling, localized leadership, sustainable economic practices, and holistic community development.
In a sea of international aid organizations that can often do more harm than good, The Freedom Story continues to be dedicated to re-evaluating it's methods and practices for true effectiveness that does no harm.

The smells and sounds of Chiang Rai city slowly fade as the "song tao" (two bench bus-truck) speedily makes its way out to the village where The Freedom Story's resource center is located. Through the small windows, I watch shop fronts turn into rice fields against the perfect backdrop of deep green mountains. It's rainy season and the heavy clouds sit low on the mountain tops, the mist curling around the tops of the trees. I get dropped off at the Wat (Buddhist temple) near the resource center and make my way up the road. I pass the Wat and the corn fields. I can't hear the sound of the road anymore. The still and quiet feels like its seeping into my skin. The warm breeze rustles the bamboo and banana leaves. A caterpillar crawls slowly across the road. I keep walking past the newly planted rice fields perfectly reflecting the cloud covered sky above. The road opens up to reveal the happy yellow building of the resource center, cozily nestled among the rice and corn. I love this moment of the day, it's like a warm and peaceful hug. I wonder if the kids have similar feelings when they make their way here after school. I don't know for sure, but I hope so. What I do know for sure is that The Freedom Story's resource center almost effortlessly makes me feel relaxed and comfortable. That is a difficult thing to conjure up in a program, but is easy to achieve when care and acceptance flow naturally from each individual staff.
I hope The Freedom Story never stops being exactly this for everyone who enters it's walls.

Role:  Volunteer