A team of 15 people landed in Bangkok this November 2016 with one mission in mind: to go to greatest home of slavery, the city of Pattaya to help remove victims from a life of oppression and injustice. Daily this large group split up in smaller teams spending one-on-one time with women living a life of hell on earth who experience daily raping, abuse and a hopelessness. So many victims, so many opportunities to love and care, and so many frustrations seeing the reality of trafficking and hearing the personal stories of precious women caught in this life of destruction. Their comments ring in our ears… “I’m all alone, I don’t have anyone. I don’t know why but I feel safe enough to talk to you. I talk to my friends here and they don’t listen to me.” “The bar owner wants me to smile more but I can’t because I hate this.” “I want to go home” “I have no heart left. Same with the other girls in the bar. We have nothing left. None of us wants to be here. There is nothing left, so I came here.” These are daughters, they are mothers, they are sisters… they are our new friends!
A glimmer of light was planted in their hearts as they heard words of love, honor and worth-- real love that cares in practical ways, offering options to begin a new life. These options of a safe job, learning a new skill, joining a safe community of friends who truly care are invaluable. The culmination of this trip came with the celebration of a party in honor of these new friends. A time to rejoice, to celebrate and for them to realize there are new options for them, there is perhaps a healthy future before them where they no longer need to live in this life of hopelessness and abuse.
This group of volunteers leaves the city of Pattaya to return home with very mixed emotions. There are many joys for our new friends and their new journeys of freedom. There is also much sadness for the many which we did not have time to reach.
Her words are printed in our hearts: “Your smile gave me hope.” “Thank you, no one listens to us. Thank you for listening to me.” As one team member mentioned on his last day of service, “I walked into this city and saw 200,000 prostitutes. I leave this city with tears in my heart because I have to say goodbye to 200,000 versions of my wife, my daughter, my mother, my friends. They are humans, deserving of so much more.” We will return for there are many more with stories that need to be heard!