Saturday, February 07, 2009
Arriving in Bangkok
We spent the last couple of days preparing for meetings with ministries in Bangkok and Chiang Mai, which is an 8 hour drive to the northern region of Thailand. We just found out that we will be traveling beyond the borders as well, to help a ministry out there. So we got passport photos done and headed to various embassies here in Thailand. Hopefully, everything follows through and we’ll be able to get our visas without any problems.
One member of our team is a makeup stylist and wanted to use her skills on this trip so we connected with an organization in Bangkok called Rahab Ministries. They are located in the center of Patpong, which is the notorious red-light district neighborhood for sex tourism in Thailand.
During the daytime this city block is seemingly quiet, but it quickly transforms at night with bright neon lights, loud music, brothels, and massage parlors. It is an estimated 4,000 prostitutes work this street every night. Many of the girls come from impoverished areas from the country-side and are brought to the large city of Bangkok in hopes of finding a well-paying job so they can support their families back home. Many are tricked into prostitution and are trapped here because it is too shameful to reveal to their parents what they actually do.
There is a common thought here that if something is not nice then it simply doesn’t exist. That said, many people don’t speak about sex tourism, so prositution does not actually exist in the public eye.
But Rahab Ministries aims to shed light on this dark issue and offer hope to the women working in Patpong. We met with the founder and he explained in detail what they do exactly. They have a Salon, Jewelry-making, and Discipleship program. They will outreach to various bargirls and prostitutes and seek to make friendships. Through that friendship, they are often directed to Rahab’s salon, where hairdressers will get to know these girls on a personal level. Bar girls and prostitutes are invited to leave their jobs and seek employment through Rahab ministries. It is there where they are able to learn English and are given the option to accept Christianity through the discipleship program.
Because the make-up artist on our team has done work for various tv shows and commercials, they invited her to teach the girls in the salon to do makeup. So when we return from Northern Thailand, she will gather her makeup kit and begin teaching these girls skills. Rahab Ministries also invited the girls from our team to come to their safehouse where they provide housing for many of their sexually exploited women. The founder suggested it would be a good to get to know those girls on a personal level and perhaps hear their stories.
Today, we will hop on an overnight train that will take us to the Northern region where we’ll be volunteering with an organization that helps trafficked victims. That is our first stop in providing eye-exams.
Please keep us in your prayers.