Stories of the Red Light District

I am fully aware, that I have not updated my blog in far too long. When life is busy, days get long and nights get short, and it’s not easy to sit in front of the screen to write out a post. More than that, when you find that life isn’t easy as you might wish it and things are more difficult than you want to explain or reflect on, all the more procrastination creeps in. Then I remember it’s not about me. It’s so far from about me… and there I find my motivation again.

Then I remember it’s not about me. It’s so far from about me… and there I find my motivation again.

If you’ve been following my journey a bit, you know by now that since being in Berlin, I’ve been working with Alabaster Jar, and organization reaching out to women in Berlin’s Red Light District. To find out more about this ministry and exactly what we do you can go ahead and visit our website, as I won’t take the time to explain that here now. What I want to to take the time for, now, are the stories I’ve collected in the Red Light District of Berlin. These stories aren’t pretty, they aren’t easy, they’re not even complete. They are works in progress. But, I’ve come to recognize that that’s okay. In fact, working in this area, I’ve come to realize that the journey has to be acknowledged. It’s not very often we see success the way the world measures success in this ministry, but it’s in the little things. So I want to take the time to share the little things, and ask you to pray with me, that these little things, turn into big things.

So let’s start off with Alice

Alice was the first girl that I started to get to know personally. When I started working at AJ, the team had already spent excessive amounts of time trying to get this young Bulgarian girl off the streets. Alice was in Berlin with her boyfriend and had a family at home to financially support. She was my age, fragile, and her need for help was evident. Unfortunately, because of her Roma background, Alice found it extremely hard to accept help. In the Roma culture, family comes first and the well-being of your family, in all aspects, is more important than your own. For this reason- knowing that if she accepted help, she could be in a better place than her family in their current situation- Alice did not see it as appropriate to take steps in setting up a better life for herself, with our help. Very often, the responsibility and burden these girls carry for their families and loved ones create difficulty for us to intervene.

We offered Alice a place in a safe house, as we felt this would be the best option to get her away from the life she was currently living, but unfortunately, Alice never agreed to this. Still very attached to her ‘boyfriend’, and worried for her family at home, Alice preferred we take steps with her outside of a safe house. We were able to help Alice get the papers she needed to find a new job, as well as place her in a new job, with a Christian employer who understood her situation.

Most of the girls we work with on the street have little to no experience in anything other than prostitution. Most of the girls have little education, language skills, social skills, or life skills. The safe houses we work with are also known as “Transition Homes” where the girls are able to learn these basic skills they never had the chance to pick up. They are homes with staff dedicated solely to the girl’s growth, development and well-being. It is impossible for us, as AJ volunteers, to offer all that the home does and it’s why we try our best to enter girls that are serious about leaving the streets into these homes.

This was Alice’s first job apart from working the streets; She was thrilled about starting her new job and she took it seriously. While employed at her new job, Alice continued to both live with her boyfriend and work the streets. Alice never fully got away from the streets but seemed to be doing better. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before her place of employment had to let her go because of financial reasons. After this, we talked to Alice about entering a transition home again, and although the situation looked hopeful, Alice ended up going back to Bulgaria with her boyfriend.

We are now told that Alice no longer works in prostitution back home, but also know that she continues to receive money from a former client- We don’t know why, and we only have little contact with her. We continue to ask about her on the street frequently, as she still holds relationships with some girls here, and we always hear from them, that she is doing better.

We trust that God is watching over Alice and that He has a plan for her. We, personally, weren’t able to come to a turning point with her but we pray that God keeps her off the streets, safe and far from returning to prostitution.

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