It’s only a few days until Christmas and I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that 2016 is almost over. The last few days have been a whirlwind for me as I’ve been in Thailand…on a missions trip. I always feel like I need to add that second part or the only questions/comments I get when I say I went to Thailand are “did you ride an elephant?” or “how was the pad Thai?” Not that there is anything wrong with elephant rides or pad Thai but my days there weren’t exactly “relaxing”. I will also preface that this post will be a little more serious than my usual witty banter and this is definitely NOT a travel recommendation post. The only places I can tell you about are places I wouldn’t recommend you checking out since I was predominantly in the Red Light District…
So let’s start from the beginning, if you follow me on insta (@love.lilla) or snapchat (@misspcilla), you’ll notice some of my posts pertaining to Thailand have references to the sex trade. Thailand has one of the largest sex trades in the world since prostitution isn’t illegal there. It sure shocked me to see how blatant the “market” is there but I have learned that this is their normal. I was able to walk the bar streets to talk with the bar girls and buy them a night of “freedom”. The foundation I worked with, New Beginnings, would throw Christmas gatherings for these women to have some time to celebrate, relax, hear The Word and learn of other possible job options through education. Keep in mind, most of these women don’t get days off or sick days so a night off is rare.
The bar girls I met ranged from 17-53 years old. It did surprise me how large the age range is meaning once they are in this profession, it’s hard to get out. The conversations we had showed me that even though we have different professions, we are similar deep down. We all want to provide for our families and we all want to do better and/or be better. It saddens me that they are being taught they have no other option than this to do so. However, I am hopeful because a third of them raised their hands for more information from New Beginnings. Also fun fact, they don’t have snapchat over there so for those I had a strong language barrier with, I was able to break the ice with the filters 🙂
Aside from the Christmas gatherings, one of my best memories from the trip was befriending some of the girls at New Beginnings. They are mostly teenagers and to see how far they’ve come from the streets has given me such hope! I can see that they have a future now, that they feel loved and they have a purpose. These girls I’ve adopted as my little sisters 🙂 We speak mostly in Facebook stickers since again the language barrier makes it hard but social media helps bridge the gap!
And to be real honest, I’m not sure if my being there made a huge impact on the New Beginning girls or the bar girls but I hope it brought them a glimmer of hope or joy. I want them to know they matter ❤
This trip was definitely a learning experience on another culture/religion but also on understanding. I admit when I first got there I was very angry to see what was happening. I had to take a step back to understand that culturally we grew up differently and the sex trade is “normal” for a lot of these women. They just don’t know what else they can do. I do hope regardless of culture, these girls and their future girls will 1) have other options open to them and 2) learn that their worth doesn’t need to be about what they look like. I hope we can empower them to have confidence in knowing they matter.
I can’t go into full detail about the complete works of the New Beginnings foundation or the bar girls I met for their safety, but if you would like more information or to get involved, please feel free to email me – hellolovelilla[at]gmail[dot]com – As cliche as it sounds, knowledge is power. I believe we can do better together when we know more! xo