One of the most tangible ways we can show love to our community is to provide medical care to people who don't have access to it, can't afford it, and may be ashamed to seek it out because they work in the commercial sex industry. In our Valentine’s Day outreach bags, we included invitations to a medical clinic that was hosted by NightLight in the red light district this week.
A doctor from a local international hospital and a couple of nurses volunteered to make this event possible. NightLight’s team was present to invite the women in, talk with them, and assist throughout the night.
Thirty people came in for free HIV testing and to talk to the doctor. We learned that there are other organizations that come to the area to offer testing, the real value we were offering was time with the doctor and a listening ear. Many of the women really needed to talk and ask the questions that burden them about the health risks or their work.
As the night went on, some of the stories they shared were traumatic stories of abuse and assault. A few women shared that their customers are different in the post-COVID world: there seems to be more violence and perversion.
Giving the women time to talk made an impact and opened doors for us to meet many new faces (a sign that our Valentine's outreach is already opening new doors for relationships we didn't have before!). We shared that NightLight offers opportunities for alternative employment and encouraged them to come to see us again for follow-up conversations.
Although the night was heavy and very sad, it was also a God-given opportunity for the women to be seen, heard, and valued in a safe place. The ones we served might not have walked away from prostitution last night, but they now have hope and the knowledge that there is an exit door and a place to receive them when they are ready.