Every December Operation Open Eyes goes to the Beginnings Foundation (www.homeofnewbeginnings.com) in Thailand to throw Celebrations of Hope for girls caught in sexual exploitation. This year they are still happening but sadly, due to COVID-19, OOE will not be able to go. That doesn't mean the awareness, fundraising, and support have to stop!
What is a Celebration of Hope?
This is a night where the Beginnings Foundation
and volunteers go into a red-light district and reach out to as many girls/women as possible, offering them a night off from "work" to attend a party that celebrates them and the extremely hard "work" they do for their families. This party is filled with fun, games, and gifts (many girls have never received anything for free before), and Foundation members share with them the love of Jesus and the opportunities the Beginnings Foundation offers to help them leave the sex slave trade.
What does the Beginnings Foundation Offer?
For Underage Girls
: Beginnings offers a home full of love and safety, private education, and support until graduation. The girls are sent to a private school and cared for through graduation. Girls have graduated from programs including Bible Studies, Fashion & Design, Science & Engineering, and Culinary Arts. Of course, once you enter the Home you are officially family and from that, you never graduate.
: Beginnings Foundation offers a range of vocational training such as gardening, baking, and sewing.
How Easy is it For Girls/Women to Leave the Sex Slave Trade?
It is extremely difficult. With many of them coming from places of poverty and family members fully depending on them to provide financially, the pressure is real. There are not many job options for them - entering the sex slave trade is a desperate last resort. Culture, religion, and family ties are very real pressures that hold many of the girls in place. Desperation to keep their younger sisters out of the sex trade often results in them bringing their sisters to Beginnings once they reach an age to "work" (often around 13-15 yrs old) saying, "I will work twice as hard if you will make sure my sister doesn't have to do what I do." Of course, they are never turned away!
How Will COVID Affect the Celebrations This Year?
Sadly/thankfully COVID has meant that most of the Bars in the red-light districts have been forced to close. While we are thankful for the physical safety and relief this has given the girls/women, it has also left them jobless and unable to support themselves or their families. Beginnings Foundation has been doing their best to care for as many as possible by providing care packages, including food, and trying their best to maintain relationships with as many girls as possible. Due to the physical restrictions and lack of contact, the celebrations will be smaller and limited to those Beginnings has been able to maintain contact with. Nevertheless, there is much excitement around the intimacy this will provide and the deeper connections that are expected to emerge.
What Can We Do to Help?
I am so glad you asked! These celebrations cost money and most, if not all, volunteers are unable to travel thanks to COVID. Consequently, much of the support is completely dependent on your generosity. So, please, please, donate! Every little really does help and any "extra" will go to supporting Beginnings and the girls already in the Home and Vocational Training for the long term.
Let's make sure as many of them as possible find Hope amidst COVID and the chance to never return to a place where they can be raped for profit.
For more information on Beginnings and the Celebrations of Hope, check out this podcast
OOE did with the wonderful Libby on Help and Hope in Thailand
Thank you so much.
We appreciate you!