An OM Greece worker explains to a six-year-old how she helps ladies involved in human trafficking and the sex industry.
I don’t babysit, much. But recently during a rare exception I was asked by one of the kids (aged six) ‘what I do in my job.’
Oy vey! Not an easy question to answer if you can’t use the words ‘human trafficking,’ ‘sex trade,’ ‘pimps,’ ‘prostitution’ or ‘slavery.’ I distracted her with chips, but I’m under no illusions – sooner or later she asks again.
At the roots what we do at Nea Zoi is this: we spend time with ladies (and men) who are treated badly by other people. Some of them are scared and hurt, and some of them have done bad things because they think it is the only thing they can do.
Why do they do bad things? she asks. Well, small inquisitive person, why do you sometimes do naughty things? There can be lots of reasons. Some of the reasons are stupid, some of them seem to make sense at the time and some of them you only realise later that you have made a mistake.
How do you feel when you want to say something and your brother and sisters ignore you? Not fun, is it? It’s annoying the first time, but if you say it again and they still don’t listen, it gets worse (You have the advantage of being able to screech like a banshee – this may not be true forever, though). Sometimes it can take several minutes to get anyone to pay attention. But imagine if they never listened? And you may argue with them (especially over the TV), but you know that they love you. You have a whole family who loves you, and a church family too, and all your friends at school. But some people don’t have that. Some people are treated badly by the people who should be looking after them. If a girl is always told that she isn’t wanted, she’s useless, she’s a nuisance and she’s worthless, she will start to believe it.
A lot of the ladies we work with believe that they aren’t worth anything. So, a large part of our job is just treating them kindly, showing them that they matter. The most important thing is that we tell them that they matter to Jesus. He loves them so much, and He will never be cruel to them.
And if they have difficulties, we offer to help them. Sometimes we go with people to the doctors, or to the shop or we read things together. Sometimes we take them out for coffee and they can tell us about what they are worried about or what they are hoping for (Yes – I agree, coffee is yucky. Sometimes we take them out for ice cream, instead).
We want to help them trust in God. When you trust in God, you can ask Him for help and He answers. And when you know that God is with you, it is much easier to stop doing bad things. We hope our ladies will decide to stop doing bad things, and when they do, we support them. So that’s what I do in my job. It’s not really a job. It’s a privilege. What does privilege mean? Oh...just eat your chips.
OM Greece is involved in anti-trafficking work by supporting our partner organisation, Nea Zoi. Nea Zoi is a Greek association for the support and restoration of individuals working in prostitution. Read more about their work here: http://neazoi.org/