Change The World | Columns | Travel

The Bigger Picture: Rescuing Exploited Children In Thailand, Being Inspired By THEIR Courage

Abby is beautiful, both inside and out. She has expressive brown eyes and a laugh that erupts when you least expect it.


Before I met her, her life as a Canadian teenager had been a blur of depression and self-loathing. But something changed when she joined us on that Hero Holiday trip in northern Thailand.

Each one of the 100+ kids we were helping on the trip had been rescued from slavery, sexual exploitation and child prostitution and they each had stories that would break your heart. We came to help them build their newest children’s home, but were transformed by their willingness to choose love and life after all that they had been through.

When it was time to say goodbye to the children at the end of her stay, Abby wanted to make sure she wouldn’t forget anything, so she wrote down what she wanted to tell them.

“For all of my life, I thought I had it unfair. I have gone through so many personal battles that nearly destroyed me. However, what I’m starting to notice is that these battles are what led me to Hero Holiday, to Thailand, to all of you.”


“Some days I’d like to give up because my purpose, my reason for being human, has been lost and is unknown to me. But now I see things differently because you have changed my life by your courage. Although I came here for you, you have given me your passion for life, your courage and your strength to keep fighting with a voice that I want to be a part of and support. I don’t care if you forget my name—the only thing I want you to remember is that you have given me courage.”

Once your life has been touched by injustice, you are never the same. Once your heart has been captured, there is no turning back. When Abby’s feet stepped back on Canadian soil two weeks later, they were the feet of a life that had been affected by change. She made a vow to let go of all that she had been harbouring in her heart and mind—all the self-pity and all the reckless choices—and she determined that she would never look back.

True to her word, she is a part of our team now, working among the poor and traveling across Canada sharing her personal story. Abby’s life is proof that our life is so much fuller when we decide to stop being so consumed with ourselves.

Abby had lots of courage inside, but she just needed some help seeing it. The day I heard her share those words, I saw her courage shine through. Perhaps someday that courage will lead her to places she’s never dreamed of, accomplishing the impossible and changing the world. But that courage has to start somewhere, and for some of us it starts with looking in the mirror and realizing that no matter what we have come through, life is always worth it.


christal-earle-200Anyone can take a Hero Holiday—even you!

Each year, hundreds of Canadian teens join Live Different on a Hero Holiday: building houses, schools and children’s homes in developing countries. To learn more about how to go on a Hero Holiday, how to bring an Absolute presentation to your school, or just find out more about how you can get involved, check out

Check out more from Christal Earle at her blog,

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