When walking in the red light district in Chiang Mai, Thailand, one notices bar after bar lining the street, and girls — some quite young, and all of them very made up — lining the fronts of the bars. These girls are trapped into a life of making themselves available, night after night, to the often western male customers who buy them for the evening. The light has gone out of the eyes of these girls. It is a heart-breaking sight.
Cambridge resident Ahna Boyum, 24, has had a heart of compassion for hurting children since she was young. More recently, her heart has been especially drawn to children either already enslaved in a life of prostitution, or at grave risk of such a life. This past year, Ahna worked for an organization in Chiang Mai — called “Taw Saeng,” which means “to shine” — that helps children and families living in the red light district there. Ahna will soon be returning to her work with children at risk in Thailand.
The story of one young girl impacted by Taw Saeng ministry is heart-grabbing. “Gigi,” who was involved in Taw Saeng’s after school program for children, had received training there on proper and improper touch. When her mom, who was financially desperate, sold her for sexual purposes to an elderly western man, Gigi broke free from him and called a trafficking hotline. Taw Saeng got involved, and with its intervention, she was saved from a life of prostitution. Gigi continues to be involved in the after school program at Taw Saeng, where she receives food, practical skills and lots of love — all of which will enable her to live a free life where she can truly “shine.”
Over 10 million people are currently being held captive by some form of slavery around the globe. Of those, half are children. Sex trafficking, often involving children, is one of the fastest-growing crimes and illegal industries worldwide. Children affected lose so much, including their freedom, their self-esteem, their hopes and dreams, their physical health and sometimes even their lives.
Ahna recognizes that one person involved in the fight against sex trafficking can only do a small bit in proportion to the overwhelming problem, but as she says, “Each child is precious to God, and worth all the work that we do.”
To help financially support the ministry of Taw Saeng in its work with children at risk of exploitation, as well as its role of support and crisis intervention for families, Ahna is organizing a car wash this Friday afternoon, Aug. 5, at Fleet-Go in Cambridge, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. All funds from this donation-based car wash will go to help the on-going ministry of Taw Saeng.
If you would like to donate to Taw Saeng but cannot make it to the car wash, you can safely and easily donate online via the ministry website: www.tawsaeng.org. If you wish to personally support Ahna in her ministry in Thailand, you can do so by sending a check made out to YWAM to PO Box 31, Cambridge, MN 55008, or via an online donation at the YWAM King’s Kids MN website: www.kingskidsgl.org.