The village is named Pang Mai Dang, and was founded twenty-five years ago as part of a project of the Thai King, Bhumibol Adulyadej, to replace the villagers' revenue from opium growing, which had been outlawed. The loss of that revenue for hill tribe people caused some families to sell their daughters into prostitution in distant cities. Pang Mai Dang residents accepted the King's help to pursue a better option: stable, consistent earnings from sewing and silversmithing.   Orathai not only makes more than her husband, but virtually supports their family of six, soon to be seven. Orathai would like some help earning money. Although in other parts of Asia, boys are the preferred sex, she says, "I have only sons so far, so I would like my new baby to be a girl. Only girls sew here."
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We drive with Ben Savasti, the director of Women Against AIDS, down a winding dirt road along a thicket that obscures squalid villages, to an outdoor restaurant at the edge of a placid lake where we eat lunch and learn about his work. "Today, we have three kinds of handicraft groups: AIDS patients, sex workers, and village women. Our AIDS patients are mostly widows; their work allows them to be productive and continue to earn. Sex workers in brothels make handicrafts in their slow afternoon hours to pay off the debt they were saddled with   when the brothel owner paid their parents. Members of our ten village women's groups are skilled artisans; no one knows which of these women are HIV positive; almost no testing is done." As we drive through the verdant farmland to visit the women's groups, Ben advises us, "Keep your eyes on the roofs. If they are not made of teak leaves, you know there is only one way a family could afford better roofing: they sold a daughter."
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