We canceled training and invited the women to a potluck meal.
Everyone pitches in – chicken masala and roti, spicy potatoes, and haka noodles.
That afternoon as the mountain of food on the kitchen table grows, the excitement and chatter grow with it.
“Ok,” says Gabe. “Today, first we will eat, and then after we have finished, we will dance.”
“No, no!” the women chorus together. “If we eat first we will be tired, and then we won’t be able to dance!”
Alright. Dancing time it is. Gabe cranks up popular dance tunes from Bollywood movies, and soon everyone is on their feet, dancing and smiling and filling the whole apartment with music and laughter.
Then comes piles of food and piles of conversation.
Languages blending and volume rising and falling as we all alternate between animated talking and tucking into the feast before us.
And then we slow down and begin going around the circle, taking turns saying what we are thankful for.
“Good food and good friends.”
“The job and the nice party.”
“I am thankful for my new family here,” says Pura. “And I am thankful because now I know who Jesus is.”
For a moment, I put the spreadsheets down and just sit and talk with these women. We begin with a story that hopefully begins to plant seeds in their hearts that they are loved, they are precious, and that they are created for a reason.
There are so many layers.
In many ways, I feel totally unfit or unworthy to fill this role.
I have no idea what it is truly like to walk one day in their shoes. I know it breaks my heart when I think about it, but that doesn’t mean much.
My prayer is that somehow my words and my heart will all translate…
The giggling finally settles and Carol’s face gets serious. She starts to say something I can’t quite understand.
I watch the ladies, intent on her words, and struggle to piece together the puzzle of what must be happening. I start to feel the meaning of her words…
Risk. Courage. Strength. Trust.
The obstacles these women face every day…
The risk for them to leave…
The courage it takes to step out…
The strength to keep walking…
The trust they place in our hands…
These women have done the hard part…
Now, all we can do is open our arms and pray to God he gives us the strength to catch.
Our 7 Precious Women
Beautiful and Bruised
Genuine, but Guarded
Strong, Resilient, Kind
Some Silent, Some Forthright
Broken Homes, Abandoned, Abused
Ever able to Smile
Thankful, but Asking
Crushed, but Hopeful
Faithful and Determined
Mothers, always a Mother
Giving, Sharing, Open
Addicted, Lost, Fearful
Stepping towards Recovery
Moving towards Jesus
Slow, Slow, Slowly
Freedom Business Fridays is a blog series focused on a new business that Serge staff are starting to help free people in forced labor or sex trade situations around the world. We are highlighting Serge’s first “Freedom Bakery” in South Asia. These women have a chance to leave the Red Light District Behind. This is their story. Told weekly, every Friday.
The bakery’s name has been changed and the author’s identity kept anonymous for security reasons.