Thursday, June 10, 2010
I passed by a family sleeping on the road today. The little baby boy was running around naked. When he saw me he screamed and ran up to me with his arms held out. It broke my heart. I wanted to pick him up and wash him and clothe him. I was already passing by when he saw me and ran to me. He grabbed my skirt and clung to my leg. I smiled down at him but I could not take him with me.
We go to the bars every day and spend time with the girls. They squeal in excitement when they see us coming and we play several games of pool with them. Sometimes we bring them bread from the market. We buy them pineapple or orange drinks too. We have a great time but foremost in our thoughts are the masks they wear and the lives they are being forced to live.
Sometimes at night we go to the GoGo bars and walk around Nano Plaza. Hundreds of girls are there for sale and they walk around with numbers on. At some of the places the girls walk around upstairs without clothes on. All the men who buy them can see are the numbers on their boots from down below. They buy them without ever seeing their faces.
We talk to the girls at the bars and they are animated and sweet. Then when they have to get up and dance on the stage naked or mostly naked with bright neon lights and mirrors filling the entire room, with all the men saying and doing various things, their faces turn into masks.
Vacant eyes stare out from the faces that pray they will please Buddha enough in this life to have a better spot next go around. We see Buddha’s everywhere with food, drinks and incense surrounding them. They girls pray to be purified constantly and for forgiveness for the lives they are living. It is truly so tragic.
Several of the girls have responded to our invitations to check out Beginnings (a local Christian mission) and one even came home with us. Beginnings offers them a different chance at life away from the bars. They finish school and are taught trades. They are given allowances to send home to their families. It’s not much, but some of them don’t make much. They are basically indentured servants to the bars and all their pay goes to the bars. They have a quota of customers they must meet every month and most of the money they make goes to their demanding families.
Often, even if they would make more money at Beginnings, the families will not allow them to leave the bars. They still obey their parents even when they are 43-years-old and still prostituting at a bar half-way across the country.
Two girls we met (one was 36, but we refer to all of them as girls) have become Christians, but they cannot leave the bars because their families told them Beginnings might traffic them and they are not allowed to leave the safety or lifestyle the bar has provided them. Their families are hoping they will find foreign husbands who will provide for the families. When a Thai woman marries a man, he marries her entire family and it becomes his responsibility to provide for them. The girls asked us to pray with them and we did. They asked that we pray for their families—their parents’ health and for their brothers and sisters. They never mentioned any specific need they had or asked us to pray for themselves at all—just for others.