Lek’s life was never easy. The Thai woman living in Pattaya has already experienced a lot in her 35 years of life, unfortunately not many positives. After the divorce from her husband, who was the sole breadwinner of the family at that time, Lek, suddenly had to earn her income on her own. She had no choice but to leave her home village and move to the next bigger city, Pattaya. She had to leave her two children with their father.

The city of Pattaya is sadly known for its excessive nightlife and sex tourism. Lek worked there for 9 months in a massage parlor. Because of the bad pay and the promise of a better income abroad, Lek went on a trip to Oman. Once there, her new employer took her passport from her. The place, which was supposed to be a better future for her, turned out to be a nightmare. The salary was not nearly what she had been promised and there were additional costs involved.

To cover these costs, Lek had to be there for more than just massages for the clients. For three years she was kept there against her will. The ever-increasing debts with her employer and the missing passport made a return trip to her home country impossible. Traumatized by the encounters with her clients and trapped in a place she hardly knew, it became more and more unbearable for her. Only when she became pregnant by one of her clients, her employer was open to let her go and put her back on the plane to Thailand.

Some people might think that after such an experience you lose the courage to face life. But not Lek, she fights her way back into life. Back in Pattaya, she learned about the Tamar Center and the cooking courses offered there. Learning to cook has always been a big dream of hers, as her mother herself used to sell food at the roadside. During the three months of training Lek learned to cook Thai and also Western dishes. She was taught the most important rules for serving and preparing coffee specialties and smoothies.

We wish Lek all the best for her future and that her dream of having her own food stall, with which she can earn a living, will come true. For now, Lek would like to stay at Tamar Center and learn as much as possible, including baking. Tamar Center, with the help of GMI, has been able to provide her and her newborn son with a safe haven after all these years of fear. But once she is strong enough, she wants to leave the city and regain her independence. In the meantime, she is receiving regular counseling to process what she has experienced.

Author: Annika
Translator: Ronja