Hösbach-based aid organization joins forces with the Tamar Center in Pattaya to promote a better and self-determined life for girls and women.
Nong is a cheerful woman in Korat province, a poor, rural region in northern Thailand. With her small sewing shop, she does not only earn a living for herself and her small family, she is also a valuable part of the village community. It was not always the case. Just a few years ago, Nong worked in one of the bars in Pattaya’s red light district. Like many other women and girls, she had fallen into poverty prostitution. The Hösbach-based aid organization Global Micro Initiative e.V. (GMI) financed a training for her. Together with the Tamar Center, GMI is committed to help women in Pattaya. The contact person for GMI is 43-year-old Steffi. She has been supporting her husband in the management of the Tamar Center for 7 years.
During a relief mission in Pattaya’s red light district in 1999, Steffi first came into contact with the plight of women there. “It really hit me how bad things were for the women who worked there in prostitution,” Steffi recalls. At the Tamar Center, she learned that many women and girls work in the bars because they have no education and thus no access to good jobs, which allow the women to support their families sufficiently. Deeply impressed by the work of the Tamar Center and the plight of the women, since then Steffi and her husband have been regular visitors to the center, which aims to provide hope, healing and education to the girls and women of the bars. Finally, 7 years ago, the couple moved all the way to Thailand to support the work there and take over the management of the Tamar Center.
The tasks of Steffi, who originates from near Krefeld, are varied and could hardly be more different: In addition to supporting her husband, she helps with designs of cards and other handmade products, purchasing the appropriate materials, taking pictures of the products for the online store and website, helping with trainings, interviewing women who are interested in leaving prostitution and the Tamar Center’s assistance program, helping out in many practical ways and always being there where help is needed. Steffi, who also enjoys walking by the sea, uses her passion for cooking and baking to help the Tamar Center’s café, for example.
“Just like at GMI, our goal as the Tamar Center is to help girls and women lead better, more empowered lives,” Steffi shares. “When Tobias asked us if we would be interested in working together, the decision to cooperate was easy.” During a joint mission with an aid organization in Southeast Asia, Steffi and her husband had met the later initiator of GMI. “Through the support of GMI, we are able to invest even more than before in individual trainings for women who want to leave the life in the bars behind. Through GMI, we have the opportunity to send women on longer, better training courses. GMI has already funded sewing and cooking trainings, as well as starter kits for a multi-week program for new women who come to us.”
As the contact person between Tamar Center and GMI, Steffi is enthusiastic about the good and clear communication with the team of the Hösbach-based aid organization. “It’s super that together we can help the women here to lead a better life filled with more self-worth and satisfaction.” Steffi thinks that it is great that GMI has such a young team made up of many dedicated volunteers who use their gifts to help other people. In today’s world, she says, that’s absolutely not a given. “Our world needs people who are committed to helping others. Seeing GMI employees do that is very inspiring.”
In her commitment to the women from the bars of Pattaya, Steffi is encouraged by life stories of women like Nong. Through GMI’s help, Nong was able to undergo 6 months of sewing training. Some time after the training ended, Nong was psychologically stable and had a desire to move back to her village to take care of her son again, whom she had to leave behind when she went into prostitution. “The women in our program often have many hurts from their past and especially from their time in the bars. We help them overcome these traumas. This makes it possible for them to live a life outside the bars again.” Through the sewing education, Nong was able to open a small sewing store in her home in her village. This allows her to earn a living. “In the meantime, Nong has been back for almost a year and she is happy,” Steffi tells us. ” She lives with her family again and can take care of them. Through her education, she has a regular income. Since COVID-19, although many families in Nong’s village are suffering and don’t have much money for big jobs, Nong makes ends meet by mending things and sewing masks. That way she has become a valuable part of her village community through her newly learned skills.”
For the year 2021, which has just begun, the dedicated 43-year-old hopes to continue working closely with GMI to help many women in Thailand and thus give women and their children a better future.