A couple weekends ago, my teammates and I had the chance to visit a beautiful little village near Krasang, about 250 miles east of Bangkok. Between 80% and 90% sex workers in Bangkok are from rural villages. We hoped that by experiencing village life first hand, we would be able to better understand the factors that force these men and women into prostitution.
We took a night train from Bangkok (I just love night trains) and the bustling city faded into quiet countryside as we rode into the night. We arrived to the village in the morning, early enough to hear the rooster crowing as the sun began to peek through the trees. It was beautiful. The air was earthy and refreshing, the slow pace of things was a welcomed change, and the sense of community was almost tangible.
One of the most striking things about the village was the juxtaposition of poverty against the rich natural landscape. The natural setting was paradise; the grass was bright green and the sky was bluer than blue. There was a gorgeous marsh spanning as far as I could see, a glistening lake, rich foliage everywhere I looked. I could hear the rustling of the leaves and feel the sun on my face. There was so much beauty to take in.
The kids gave us a grand tour of their village, complete with parasols to shade us from the sun. After we had been walking for a few minutes, we turned a corner and saw a buffalo who didn’t look too pleased to see us. His nostrils were flaring and he was inching closer to us...he was not amused. My friend and I were terrified to cross his path (which the kids thought was hilarious) but we made it!
But standing in stark contrast to the rich nature that surrounded us was poverty and unemployment. There was no running water for cooking, showering or other bathroom necessities, no air conditioning, and minimal electricity. There were almost no job opportunities.
I met people who were sick and without access to the most basic medical care. I met children from broken families, left to be taken care of by grandparents or friends in the village while their moms prostituted themselves in the city and their dads turned to alcohol and drugs.
It’s customary in Thailand that sons provide for their aging parents spiritually, usually by spending time as monks and earning karma for the family, while daughters provide financially. The young women we befriended in the bars in Bangkok are expected to financially support their parents and extended family as well as their own children.
With the lack of jobs in the village, the financial burden often becomes too much to bear. Enticed by the high salaries of bar work, women are drawn to the city. Because of their education status (most have not completed high school) their job options in the city are limited to construction, factory work, or bar work. Some of the women I met had previously worked in construction or factories before turning to prostitution because of the pressure to earn enough money to support all of their extended family who depended on them.
The cycle of prostitution is complex and difficult to break, but there is hope for change through education and by providing alternative job options. Samaritan Creations, our partner organization in Bangkok, provides alternative work for women formerly pressured into prostitution. Here, women learn artisan skills like sewing, jewelry making, and painting, while receiving counseling, support for their children, and funding for continuing education. It is truly a beautiful thing to walk alongside these incredible women.
To support Samaritan Creations, a nonprofit that assists women leaving the Thai sex industry through employment, counseling and entrepreneurial funding, donate here: https://warinternational.org/donate/ (choose "missionary" and "Killar" from the drop-down menu.)
Thanks for stopping by. A little about me — I have a latte each morning and drink about 7 cups of tea a day (not exaggerating.) I live in Atlanta where I'm going to law school. I like long distance running and I love my city and I love exploring our beautiful earth. I believe in following our passions & being free.
I started this blog to document and share my favorite moments while traveling. This is a place where I process my ideas, share the aches and joys of my heart, speak truth, and shine light on the beauty I see in the world.
I've realized that what I probably love most about traveling is the same thing I love about writing — the way it connects me to myself and other people. I hope as you read my words, you feel connected to our shared humanity.
Thank you for reading. :)
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