You may know that NightLight is a ministry that reaches out to women in prostitution in a red light district in Bangkok. Here is some more information about NightLight and the girls, presented in the order of what a girl might go through in their involvement with NightLight.
1. Tuesday and Friday evenings, a team of volunteers from NightLight, including long and short term volunteers from Canada, America, and the UK, meet together to pray over NightLight and its needs, and the women they may (or may not) meet later that evening. After spending this time in prayer, the team heads out for dinner together. I’ve found this time of socializing before entering a pretty stressful atmosphere so relaxing. After dinner, the team decides on their groups for the evening; usually 4-5 people together is a workable size. You want to be with other people, but a group of 10-ish people is too many for one bar… Finally, the team heads to the red light area.
2. Once at the bars, the team may start the evening by seeking out a specific person they’ve been building a relationship with on prior evenings. Then, they decide on a bar and take a seat. Everyone orders a bottle of water, which is why [most of] the bar owners don’t mind if we are there. While you definitely want to avoid feeding into the industry, this is just a bottle of water, and it is what allows us to sit there week after week without much (if any) opposition or hostility. I’ve already blogged about what actually happens at outreach – you wait for the girls to be done dancing, and then see if they are open to discussion. Good discussion questions are things about their families, how long they’ve been working there, where they are from, if they like working in the bars, etc. When you mention working at NightLight and making jewelry, you can judge their reaction and interest, and go from there. If a girl is interested in leaving the bar and working for NightLight, she is given the phone number of our Thai staff and encouraged to call as soon as possible. The rest is up to her!
3. When a girl calls, she is asked to come in for an interview. I don’t know too much about the interview except a few things I’ve overheard in passing conversation. They look for how open the girl is to really giving up her work in the bars and making a life change by working for us. They also look at what type of skills the girl has to find a job outside the bar apart from us. For example, the girl we met in the bar the first night (who still has yet to begin work, although we are assured that she is, indeed, starting soon) is driven to work to support her two teenage children and provide them with an education, but has absolutely no education herself – she is completely illiterate and has no real employable skills. Therefore, she will really benefit from the full NightLight experience! NightLight does try to hire as many girls as want to come, of course, but that is clearly not always possible (as I’ll get to later…!).
4. The first thing that happens at NightLight every morning is worship and devotions. At 9:00, everyone meets at a nearby church. One of the pastors and several of the girls who have learned musical instruments (at NightLight!) lead the group in praise and worship. After this, there is a Bible teaching. Different people speak every day (I did it today!). Sandra speaks on Wednesdays, the pastors speak on the other days. They finish the time with morning announcements, which could range from celebrating people who made it to work on time for an extended period of time, to announcing birthdays, introducing new people, etc.
5. Then, the work day starts! All of the girls at NightLight are trained in jewelry making. They work in table groups – the same group of girls at each table – in two rooms. They make all sorts of jewelry, such as beautiful necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and rings. Once they’ve learned the jewelry making part, some of the girls can move into other positions. These include working in the packing and shipping room, making the silk screen bags that the jewelry is delivered in, helping in the accounting office, going with the designer to buy the beads, etc.
6. The girls also rotate through lunch-making groups. When it’s their turn to make lunch, the girls start their day by going to the market to buy fresh food (that’s the way it’s done here). Then, they come back and get busy!!! There are about 110 people to feed! They cook normal Thai food which ranges from really good (usually) to… not quite as appetizing (today’s main dish was shrimp paste with soybean paste and coconut milk… it looked… disturbing…).
7. Throughout the week, there are about 24 classes offered for the girls to take. These include things like ESL, Jesus 101 and other Bible studies, colour theory and jewelry design, and many others. These classes broaden the girls’ abilities and experiences, helping them in their work at NightLight and also in building their employability outside of NightLight. The variety of Bible classes helps girls at all stages of spiritual development to have a venue to learn more – there are intro classes for girls who are not believers, and classes for girls who have been believers for quite awhile.
8. Girls at NightLight are not forced or pressured to become Christians. Their employment, standing or reputation does not correlate to their personal faith decisions. However, they are aware from the beginning that NightLight is a Christian organization and business, and they are required to be at the devotional time in the mornings. Approximately half of the girls who have worked at NightLight have accepted Christ as their Saviour.
9. NightLight has a nurse/counselor who is in three days of the week for the girls to visit as needed. The staff is also available to talk to and pray with as the girls request. Spiritual deliverance (demon possession is very, very common here) is available when needed, too.
10. The girls’ base salary is equivalent to the base salary paid in the bars, and the girls can work up from there (like any regular job).
Alright, I think I’ve covered all the bases. Do you have any more questions? Post them here or email me and I will find out what I can! 🙂
Here’s the little detail you may not know but should be aware of…
Because NightLight is a business, the money used to pay the girls’ salaries MUST come from jewelry sales, not donations.
Your direct donations are used for overhead costs, expenses, etc. This is very significant because it means that all of the money from the jewelry sales can go directly to the girls’ salaries.
However, because NightLight is a business, donation money cannot go to paying the girls’ salaries. The only way NightLight can get money to pay the girls is directly through jewelry sales.
This means that if you want to be able to help NightLight actually hire more women, you can DIRECTLY INFLUENCE that by making a purchase from NightLight!!!
To reiterate, when you buy from NightLight, you are DIRECTLY making it possible for NightLight to continue to provide alternative employment for women wishing to escape the sex industry.
Now, I know firsthand what it’s like to want to make a difference, but to also be a bit ‘strapped for cash’. There are also many other worthy causes to donate to or invest in. So, if you are unable to make a purchase from NightLight, that’s okay! I just want to make sure everyone is aware of how EASY it is to make a difference in the lives of the girls I am seeing on a daily basis now.
Over the next few weeks, I’m going to feature some jewelry on this blog so that you can get a feel for what’s available (though you are more than free to head over to the store to look at everything now!).
I am also announcing a Giveaway!!!
For every item you purchase from NightLight between today and the end of the month, you will earn an entry into a draw for a special NightLight gift!
So, when you make your purchase, either leave a comment on the blog here orsend me an email letting me know how many pieces you ordered. At the end of the month, I’ll do a draw and let you know who wins! I’ll bring the item back with me and give/mail it to you in December!
Here is the first featured product:
Yep, that’s right! NightLight is now making Christmas ornaments! This ornament has “silver, blue and clear Swarovski crystals” and a “silver plated NL charm”. Click here to order now!
It also comes in gold with green, gold and red crystals. Click here to order now!
These beautiful ornaments are only $29.99 USD and I’m sure would be a great addition to your Christmas tree this year!
Again, if you cannot make a purchase right now, I do completely understand! 🙂
Thanks in advance for whatever you are able to contribute. You really are making a significant difference in the life of a very real person!