I’m interviewing survivors of sex trafficking (women forced into prostitution) at the Ruili Women and Children’s Center (left – Mr. Bangyuan Wang, of Health Unlimited and I’m sitting next to him in black)The Ruili Women and Children’s Center in Ruili city, southern China
Blog -1 of interview with addict
Back right – Gyen Nai, 33 years old.
Blog 2 - interview with addict
Gyen Nai was shooting up heroin when I began to talk with him with the other Health Unlimited staff members.

The poorest of the poor and the forgotten

My trip to southwest China last week on behalf of a donor was a life transforming one for me. Though I’ve been there twice before, this time, it was different. I can’t put it into words. I spent time with blind people, AIDS orphans, prostitutes, drug addicts with HIV. I fell in love with these people and the region.

“Prayer begets faith, faith begets love and love begets service of the poor.”

“Today it is very fashionable to talk about the poor. Unfortunately, it is not fashionable to talk with them.”

Mother Theresa

A great passion has lodged itself in my heart to do what I can to help channel more resources and mobilise others to go (student volunteers, social entrepreneurs). I want to see that area TRANSFORMED by compassion and strategic services.

I know it will take a lot of work. I’m already behind in my fundraising work for elderly comfort women survivors… I want to raise funds for a holiday trip to the city (these comfort women survivors live in rural areas and this was recommended by lawyer Kang Jian who is in touch with more than 30 of them) and mobilise medical volunteers to provide treatment. These survivors also need art therapy and psycho-social care. If you’d like to help, please send me a message!

Rescuing desperate women

Two prostitutes are in need of help with their children’s high school tuition. These women are in their late 20s or early 30s and they are in sex work in order to cover the room and board costs of their sons’ school fees. We are in touch with a New York foundation to see if they would cover the school costs – however, these women must agree to get out of that line of work.

I also met Linda, a wonderful director of an NGO that serves prostitutes in the Golden Triangle by offering a safe house, providing HIV and STI prevention education and a life-changing job program that trains them in jewelry making.

In one of my last blog posts I had mentioned that I wanted to track down an NGO that helps women escape prostitution so that the Burmese prostitutes I had met near the border area last year would have alternative employment.

Well, BINGO. Linda’s NGO Mercy is the right organization. With local partners, we’re working towards bringing together different NGOs that work with prostitutes in southwest China to learn from Mercy’s jewelry business. So far, Mercy has been supporting 20 former CSWs who now live with dignity and hope.

I’ll write more about my trip and post photos soon.  I will leave you with one more quote by Mother Theresa that I lifted from Heidi Baker’s book Compelled by Love (I wept while reading this book about her work in England’s slums and in Mozambique):

“Be kind and merciful. Let no one ever come to you without coming away better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindess in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting. In the slums we are the light of God’s kindness to the poor. To children, to the poor, to all who suffer and are lonely, give always a happy smile – give them not only your care, but also your heart.”

Spending time with AIDS orphans at Mother’s Heart homes in SW China (mothersheartchina.org). One of our donors funded the 3 homes for a year.
Blog 3 - Interview group pic
Me in striped shirt, So Lat (2nd from left), is 22 years old and addicted to heroin. My good friend Bangyuan Wang, program manager for Health Unlimited at far right.

The three guys on the right are with Health Unlimited, a UK-based organization that works with the most marginalised communities in the world.

The young man, second from the right, is a very dynamic outreach worker and the young man behind him is a drug user who helps collect used needles (in exchange for new ones to prevent the spread of HIV).

My good friend Bangyuan Wang, is the program manager of this project (in white T-shirt). He plans to go overseas for graduate study. We are trying to find sponsors and scholarships for him.

He’s an incredible leader and unsung hero who has selflessly worked amongst the poorest places in southwest China near the border. If you’d like to contribute to his tuition fees, please message me and I’ll connect you with Bangyuan.

Blog 4 - alley
Shooting alley
Lasan and (right) Bangyuan Wang - HU program manager
We found Lasan (left) on the ground. He had overdosed. Bangyuan Wang, program manager (and unsung hero) is sitting with him.

I’ll write about his story in the next blog post.