Hope Shines in the Red-light District

It was early. The Bridge of Hope center had no children within its classrooms. Dedicated men and women arrived to set up the place. Very soon, every nook and cranny would be filled with eager and hungry youngsters…some of whom came from a very dark background.

These were children who may have otherwise been left to roam the streets; children who were perhaps destined to live in poverty, become drunkards or prey for sex traffickers. But now, these children were on their way to a future quite different from the generations before them.

A Joyful Investment

Once all the children arrived, they settled down for their morning tutoring lessons and hot meal. The boys and girls all looked neat and clean, which boasted quietly of the hard work of their Bridge of Hope teachers, who felt privileged to be part of these once-unruly children’s lives.

Kien has been serving with Bridge of Hope since the program began in 2004. He oversees this center and has a heart of compassion for the children he serves.

“When I think about these children and their future, I feel very happy and joyful because of the work that we are doing among them. These children will get a new life; they will become new persons as we teach them. I feel very glad and happy to think where these children will be in the future because of the investment we have made in their lives while here at the center.”

Kien oversees the Bridge of Hope Center and has a heart of compassion for the children he serves

Kien (center) and the rest of the staff at the Bridge of Hope center care deeply about the children and their families.

Not Your Ordinary Bridge of Hope

This Bridge of Hope center is unique compared to others dotted across Asia. Although many centers serve impoverished children, or those forgotten by society or infected with leprosy, this center influences those trapped in a dark, unspeakable trade nearly everyone hates or looks down on. More than half of the children attending this center have mothers who work as prostitutes in the red-light district.

“While these parents are engaged in their daily work,” Kien says, “their children are left unattended. They have no parental guidance or supervision whatsoever. … They are let loose, and they become very unruly. They do not obey or listen to others. This is a big need here to teach their children.”

More than half of the children attending this center have mothers who work as prostitutes in the red-light district.

Started Out of Desperate Need

This Bridge of Hope center began out of the desperate need seen by GFA-supported workers. Innocent children face dangers of being trafficked into the red-light district, just like their mothers. With an understanding of these children’s background, the teachers in this center are able to mentor each child with grace.

Jemi, a single woman in her 30s, has been a tutor at Bridge of Hope since 2012. She has seen the children’s lives change drastically because of the center.

“Once a child comes to the Bridge of Hope project center and goes through the training period,” Jemi explains, “the changes and differences are very much visible and apparent. … They were very naughty or unruly before they came to the Bridge of Hope project center. They used to have foul mouths, use vulgar words before coming here, but now they are not like that.”

These children will get a new life; they will become new persons as we teach them. I feel very glad and happy to think where these children will be in the future because of the investment we have made in their lives while here at the center.

An Imperative Calling

With hearts that want to see change, the Bridge of Hope staff care not only for the children but for their families too. Because they know true change starts within the home and that the way parents raise their children is crucial, they encourage every mother and father to be involved in their children’s lives and studies.

The Bridge of Hope staff visit with the students’ families weekly. They see it not only as an important part of their job but also as part of their calling. It is a way they can directly show the women in the red-light district they are loved and cared for—even when all of society rejects them and looks down on them.

The Bridge of Hope staff care not only for the children but for their families too.

Bridge of Hope staff regularly visit prostitutes — offering compassion and encouragement to those in need of the hope of Christ.

“The most important thing that we do is visit them,” Jemi said, “because usually people don’t … want to do anything with the prostitutes in the red-light district.”

Making a Lasting Impact

Bridge of Hope students look up to their teachers as class and activities are in session. They recognize the opportunity to imagine the future. Maybe someday they, too, could teach or become a doctor or a police officer. With newfound hope, each child knows they have the freedom to dream. They don’t have to choose the life of shame in the red-light district.

“The work that I do has a lasting impact in the lives of these children,” Kien says. “The impact is not only in children but also everyone the child in future will come across. These children have potential to impact others when they grow up because of our times invested in their life today.”

More than half of the children attending this center have mothers who work as prostitutes in the red-light district.

The door of potential is opened to these children for a life freed from the red-light district.

Although there is still much work to be done, Bridge of Hope stands in this red-light district community as a beacon of hope to those whom most people would refuse to associate with. Thanks to the commitment of the staff, children are receiving the love and care they need to thrive and succeed in life and not fall into the sex trade or continual poverty. Each child is given the opportunity to have the courage they need to transform their generation and the ones after them.

Children at the Bridge of Hope center near a red-light district are now given the chance to hope and dream about their future. So many children in this impoverished area don't know the importance of an education. Today, this is being changed one child and one family at a time.

Boys and girls are treated equally in the Bridge of Hope center no matter where they come from or who their parents are. Even though most people in their community hate or look down on prostitutes and their children, Bridge of Hope staff members see them as precious and love them despite what others may say or think.

Children at the Bridge of Hope center know their teachers love them. Because of this love, they contribute to their lessons and pay close attention in the classroom. The teachers not only help the children in their studies but also are significant role models in their students' lives.

After classes are taught, the Bridge of Hope students line up to wash their hands before mealtime. Many of these kids, due to the lack of parental guidance, had little to no hygiene knowledge prior to coming to the center.

Nourishing, hot meals are served to every child in the center. Because of the center's locality, most of the children come from impoverished families. This means the meal served on the weekdays may be the only substantial meal they will have all day.

Every morning, the Bridge of Hope teachers and staff meet at the center before the children arrive. These staff members are genuinely concerned for and love the children enrolled. They want to see breakthroughs from the cycle of poverty and gently bring to light the horrors of prostitution that threaten to ruin these young lives.

Kien has been serving with Bridge of Hope since 2004. He oversees this center. Through the way he serves and loves the students and staff at the center, you can see he has a big heart.

Jemi is a single woman in her 30s. She has been a tutor at Bridge of Hope since 2012. She is grateful to be part of watching children's lives be transformed under her and her co-workers' love and care.

Kien, Jemi and other Bridge of Hope staff travel each day to their students' homes to visit and encourage the families.

Kien and the teachers explain to the parents how important it is that their children receive encouragement in their homes so they can keep up in their studies and excel in life.

When Bridge of Hope staff members visit families, they are able to be a beacon of hope in some of the gloomiest places. They offer love and compassion to those who are hurting, trapped in prostitution or deep in poverty.

Kein had never before seen such heartbreaking circumstances in children's lives until he began serving in this center near the red-light district. He is always willing to take in another child who needs help.

These children can become doctors, lawyers, teachers, police officers or business owners. Through the care of the staff and the education these kids are receiving, they have true hope for the future!


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*Names of people and places may have been changed for privacy and security reasons. Images are GFA stock photos used for representation purposes and are not the actual person/location, unless otherwise noted.

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