I mentioned in Day 10: Learning to Wait that an alumni from 9 years ago got in touch recently. Today I chatted online with “Nat” for a while, and asked her if she had any goals for her future. I already knew the answer, but it was a way to get things started.
“I still can’t think about the future,” Nat replied. Not only does she have to support her own daughter, Nat told me, but four nieces and nephews whose parents are in jail. She also has to help support her parents. “Right now everyone at home depends on me as the oldest daughter.” It’s the sad, all-too-normal life of the young northeastern Thai woman.
Nat is bright, but with no diploma she has only one option for an income at the level she needs. She is also pretty and personable, so has earned a lot at that business. But it takes its toll, and has no future. She was only 17 when she was at The Well, had already been “working at night” and with us was hoping for a change, but family pressure forced her back. Now here she is with still no hope of something different.
We have met women who did well in the industry. These women usually don’t have a history of childhood trauma, and are able to make a calculated decision to get into this work, save money and get out. But for every one of those relatively fortunate women there are many who get stuck. Their costs shoot up, as they find themselves spending a good part of their high incomes just to alleviate stress. Their families, used to the extra funds, maintain pressure for more. Health problems arise. Some may “catch” foreign husbands, but between character and cultural issues, long-term relationship success is also spotty.
Hearing from Nat after 9 years was an answer to prayer. I had seen her potential back then, when she was a teen, but I also knew that everything was stacked against her. The news that came from time to time from a common acquaintance wasn’t good. My heart leaped when she contacted me. And my mind is now prayerfully working through possible options where she could perhaps change occupations but still get good pay, maybe the right kind of sales job, for instance.
Chatting of course can be convenient but slow, so I tried calling Nat but she didn’t pick up. “I’m sorry I can’t answer right now. I’m with a customer.”
I know this irony well. Thousands of men a day use women in this way, while a relatively tiny handful are working to help them (including our very generous donors). I didn’t even do very much–simply asked some questions, encouraged her for her hard work and commitment, and said I would be praying and looking for ways to help her situation. Not much, but it was enough for Nat to express strong gratitude. “I’m so discouraged and sometimes just want to tell someone,” she wrote. “I’m so thankful that today I was able to tell you.”