Concert to give sex workers a brighter future

By Alan Solomon, Waiariki Journalism Student

A Rotorua woman is aiming to raise $10,000 to help Thai prostitutes in Bangkok with a fundraising concert tomorrow night.

The show will be the seventh annual Rahab Concert Liz Fowler has organised to raise funds to help the women find alternative employment.

The funds will be used to send a team of six local and two Hamilton-based women to work alongside Rahab Ministries; a volunteer organisation offering counselling, re-training and accommodation for sex trade workers in Patpong, the red light district of Bangkok.

The volunteers work with prostitutes offering them practical help, emotional support and providing them with opportunities for education, vocational training and alternate employment.

Mrs Fowler said this year's concert would be the best so far featuring piano recitals, guitars, singers and a choir.

"The second half will be more light-hearted and lively with dancing and Living Well Church Pastor Andrew Parrington singing a surprise number."

She said 200 people had supported the first concert and the event had grown from there.

"We've raised up to $8000 in the past and are hoping to top that this year."

Mrs Fowler said after she first visited Thailand in 2005, she had returned home wanting to do something to help the prostitutes she had seen there.

"Those girls are so poor and were told that if they went to the city they could get good jobs to support their families but were tricked into prostitution. I thought to myself, what can I do to help these girls? I wasn't very good at sausages sizzles, so I decided to organise a concert," she said.

Mrs Fowler said the money raised would help the New Zealand volunteers go into bars in Patpong and "buy" the girls for a few hours.

"We encourage them, give them hope, gifts and just be their friends," she said.

More than 4000 women work each night in Patpong which is known internationally for its sex tourism.

Rahab House was set up in the 1990s to support women to leave prostitution by employing them in jewellery-making, nail art or hairdressing while also teaching them English.

The Rahab Concert starts at 7pm tomorrow at the Living Well Church on Biak St.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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