Sitting in the international detention center (IDC) in Bangkok, Imani* was afraid and confused. She had been detained by police, unable to provide any documentation for her right to be in Thailand because her passport had been stolen years ago.
When Imani left her home in Tanzania she thought she would be starting a job at a salon. However, when she arrived, the woman who had arranged for her trip told her she now owed a debt of $5,000 and needed to pay it off by working as a prostitute. She was beaten, threatened, and often deprived of food if she didn’t meet the woman’s expectations for how much money she should make. Imani’s world grew dark quickly, and she lost hope for anything better in her future.
That was until she met NightLight at the IDC. “Mommy Annie came to visit, and she said, ‘We will try to help you.’” In the past, people she reached out to for help simply told her, “Life is hard! You have to work!” Some time after meeting Annie, she was transferred to NightLight’s shelter in Bangkok where she was able to participate in activities like art and life skills classes that helped her start healing.
The team at NightLight supported Imani through the process of giving her testimony in Thai court and also helped her apply for a work permit so she could stay in Thailand legally. Today she works at NightLight learning skills as a barista and has dreams of opening her own coffee shop in Tanzania when she is ready to return home. “I am happy!” she says, “I feel blessed because no one can touch my body!”
Imani’s joy comes from restored hope, a deep knowledge that she is loved, and her regained agency over her own body and future. This is why NightLight exists: to reach out to people lost in the darkness of sex trafficking and help them regain their lives.
As we continue observing Human Trafficking Awareness Month, please consider making a donation to NightLight. Your gift enables us to reach women like Imani in their darkest moments and offer a light of hope and a future of freedom.