In the beginning, every time a member of our outreach team would try to begin a friendly conversation, he would dismissively turn his back.
This was not entirely surprising. There is often distrust and fear amongst those working in the red light districts, and our teams are not necessarily welcomed initially.
At the core of Eden is a belief in reaching entire red light communities – not only the young women trapped in sexual exploitation, but also their children, brothel owners, pimps and customers.
Brothel owner Leo* and his family run a large section of one of our outreach areas. His older brother and his wife, as well as his sister-in-law and her husband, all run brothels in the same one-mile radius. Leo even has two sons who are often hanging about the brothel watching television, doing homework, and playing with their pet hamster.
Relationships in red light districts with brothel owners like Leo often take months, if not years, to build.
After three years of frequent visits, and loving communication, Leo now not only sends his two sons to our sister program for after-school tutoring, but even welcomes us into his brothel every time we pass by!
Leo now acknowledges that what he is doing as a brothel owner is wrong and admits he is driven by the fear of poverty. In his home village, he has known many people who have starved to death.
Leo has not yet given up running a brothel. But we see his heart in the process of changing and continue to see how he is being affected by the message of hope that he is hearing and seeing displayed. We pray that his children may also have a chance to break out of the “business” and have a bright future.
* Names have been changed to protect the individuals’ privacy.