In 2007 Bia was a 25-year-old single mom taking care of her 7-year-old son in northeastern Thailand. Already struggling to make enough money to take care of her child while helping her parents pay off their debts, things turned from bad to worse when her son was a passenger involved in a motorcycle accident. Though not life threatening, Bia’s son sustained serious injuries that required expensive medical care. With no money and few options, Bia listened to the advice of her aunt and moved to Pattaya to find work. Pattaya is known throughout northeastern Thailand (Thailand’s poorest region) as a city of opportunity, and Bia believed it was this city that held the answer to her financial difficulties.
It turned out that jobs with decent pay were not as easy to find as she had first thought. Although she got a job serving drinks, the income was barely enough to pay her rent, let alone send money home to her family. It was at this point that Bia succumbed to the same pressure that hundreds of thousands of women in Pattaya had before her, and entered the sex trade.
Life in the bars of Pattaya is not easy. Pattaya is a city notorious for it’s sex industry, and has become a magnet that attracts foreign men with an appetite for unusual or abusive sexual behavior. For the thousands of women working here, there is no protection from these abuses. It is not a question of if they will be abused, but only when. Having survived seven years in the sex industry, Bia has experienced no shortage of trauma, but thankfully, it appears that her sad story is taking a turn for the better.
Since Not Abandoned staff first met Bia in November 2014, she had kept in regular contact. When the Employment Education Center first opened in May, she was one of the first English students and has remained extremely dedicated ever since. Working long hours and getting very little sleep, she still always found a way to make it to class, and worked very hard to learn. After class she would stay behind and talk with staff about her challenges and her dreams. She wanted to leave the sex industry, but didn’t know how. Thankfully, at the start of July after much encouragement and advice from staff members, Bia made up her mind and was able quit her job and leave the sex industry.
In addition to this positive change, Bia will also be soon joining the team of Freedom Stones artisans! Our team is so very proud of her for taking the first steps toward a better life. Staff and volunteers are continuing to work with her in the coming months to help her transition, heal but finally Bia is now on her way to a brand new, healthy life!
|Bia when we first met her||Bia beginning her new life|