By Annie Dieselberg
Through life-on-life ministry, NightLights goal is to meet the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of women in prostitution, their children, and those children brought illegally in Thailand to financially support their families by selling items in the bars and often through sexual exploitation.
These goals will be met through building relationships with women and children who work in the sex trade industry along the Nana/Sukhumvit area and by providing a center that offers emergency aid, educational and employment opportunity, emergency child-care, language tutoring, literacy training, and biblical teaching and healing for their community. This week Wrecked had the privilege of interviewing a member of their staff, Annie Dieselberg.
What does NightLight do?
NightLight Design is a registered jewelry business which employs women coming out of prostitution or having been at risk of prostitution and/or trafficking. NightLight gives the women a job with above average wages, vocational training, medical benefits, nutritious meals, a savings plan, and tuition scholarship assistance. In partnership, NightLight Ministry does outreach in the red light area to visit women, build relationships, offer assistance and alternative employment. NightLight Ministry also addresses the whole person through life-skills training, spiritual discipleship, shelter, and counseling.
How long does it usually take for a girl to make the decision to get out of the industry?
It totally varies from the minute we meet them to six years or more. Each person is different.
How have you seen God work in these girls lives?
We’ve seen them become more secure and confident, more adaptable and responsible, more at peace and content; we’ve seen their family situations change, seen them gain skills and hope for their future, and begin to take leadership. We’ve also seen the women come to Christ and baptized as their lives are changed.
Can you share a personal story of a girl whose life was changed as a result of your ministry?
We were winding up our outreach where young Eastern European and Central Asian women are trafficked for prostitution. All of the sudden, a fruit vendor on the curbside angrily threw a bucket of water at a young foreign woman. As the woman stood there dripping and in shock the vendor began attacking the woman with her plastic cooler. Again and again she went after her while a crowd of men gathered around to watch. A few laughs filled the air as the woman turned and ran into the street.
Quietly, but quickly I went after her. She was crying and disoriented. I asked if she was okay and then I saw blood gushing from her hand. I started to guide her to the nearby hotel. She panicked and said, No, no, not there, afraid of this hotel used so regularly for sexual services. We need to take care of your hand. Its okay, well take care of you. In the hotel bathroom, as the water rinsed the blood from the wound she cried out in pain and shock. Why? Why did she attack me?
The blood would not stop and I said, We have to take you to a doctor. She looked frightened. No, I no money. Well help you. I tried to console her and explain that she had to see a doctor. We jumped in a taxi and rushed to a nearby hospital. The young woman, Lina, was frightened but tried to look composed. She said, Okay, I okay. You go. I go. I tried to reassure her, You are alone. You are scared. We will help you.
The doctor looked at the damage on her hand. Her finger was not broken but the tendon looked crushed. They injected the wound to numb it and she cried out in pain. She clenched my hand with her other hand which was also cut. The doctor began to stitch up her hand. Blood from the wounds on her back was seeping into the bed sheets. We turned her on her side and tried to comfort her.
We went to the lobby to wait for the bill. An Arab man approached. Lets go, he said to her.
No, she is waiting for her medicine.
Well get the medicine outside.
NO! I said strongly. She will wait for the medicine the doctor has ordered.
One of my team began to ask questions. He became uncomfortable. I just came to help
her go back to her friend.
I tried the naive approach, Do you live in Bangkok?
No, Im on vacation, his eyes were evasive.
Where are you from? (Dubai) Are you enjoying Thailand? I tried to dissolve his suspicions. The man was uneasy. He went outside for a cigarette and made a phone call. Lina answered her phone. The man disappeared and Lina changed her story. She no longer had a boss. She had come to Bangkok on her own. I looked her in the eyes and said, Lina, I know. I understand about the Uzbek women coming to Bangkok. We want to help you.
When the bill was paid, Lina thanked us. We exchanged phone numbers and the cultural three- kiss-on-the-cheek farewell. She insisted she was waiting for her friend. We said good bye and with a deep sadness, watched her walk off into the dark alone.
How many girls are you caring for currently?
We have 81 women on payroll and a waiting list of 10-12.
How do the girls earn money after going through help at NightLight?
The women at NightLight make a salary paid twice a month. Some of the women have taken the skills they have learned in jewelry making and marketing and are running their own little businesses on the side.
How can people get involved?
People can get involved by advocating at local, national, and international levels for laws to be passed which address the demand side and allow for better alternatives for women. The more the church becomes involved locally in addressing the issues of sexual brokenness and exploitation, the more impact is seen worldwide. There are perpetrators and victims sitting in our pews at church who need a safe place to tell their stories and find healing and restoration in community.
People can directly support NightLight by contacting us to receive the newsletter updates, purchasing jewelry, holding jewelry parties to sell the jewelry and raise awareness, and by donating to the 501c3.
Volunteers and interns are welcome at NightLight through an application process and as space is available.
Most of all we covet your prayers for transformation in the red light areas, for the church to become more involved, for release of women and children from sexual exploitation through prostitution, assault, and trafficking, for the release of resources to support the women, and for the staff who care for the women on a daily basis while at the same time running a business.
These are several anti-trafficking campaigns which can be joined to partner in this movement:
Not For Sale
Stop the Traffik
Initiative Against Sexual Trafficking
The Salvation Army – Human Trafficking
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services