This is the twelfth in a series of articles as part of the WorldCraftssm Set1Free campaign. This campaign highlights WorldCrafts artisan groups working to end sexual exploitation and human trafficking among the world’s poor.
When the founders of Tamarisk Tree first met Camille outside the brothel, she told them her all-too-familiar story with a warm smile as if to mask the sadness in her eyes.
Recently divorced with a young son to support, she’d ventured into one of China’s major cities to find decent work, armed only with hope and a second-grade education. She soon accepted her cousin’s invitation to work at a massage parlor, intent on forging a new life for herself. But her first night on the job revealed that customers expected more than just a massage and her dream of a successful restart in life was not turning out the way she’d hoped.
Prostitution in China, though legally prohibited, is an all-too-common sight. In seemingly every neighborhood there are massage parlors, hair salons, bath houses, bars, and karaoke clubs where women are exploited. Pink lights glow in the windows at night, letting potential customers know sex is for sale. It’s really no secret.
Many fall into prostitution out of financial desperation, while others are deceived or coerced. It touches women of all social classes, binding them in darkness and blinding them to their true worth as precious daughters made in God’s image.
Compelled by the love of Christ and by many stories like Camille’s—each the same, each unique—Tamarisk Tree was started to reach out to women caught in the tragic snare of prostitution. The expatriate Christian friends led to this work had prayed for and befriended sexually exploited women in their city over time and wanted to move to the next level of involvement and ministry. So in 2009 they registered a jewelry-making business there to offer women an alternative source of income working in a safe and loving environment.
The Tamarisk Tree group walks alongside women on their path from exploitation to healing and restoration. They do this in a holistic way by offering:
Friendship. They develop relationships with women currently involved in prostitution, seeking to better understand their needs. From a point of understanding, they can then offer them hope for a new beginning.
Employment. They provide women an opportunity to leave the sex industry and earn a fair wage in their jewelry-making workshop.
Shelter. Tamarisk Tree’s dormitory provides a safe community.
Counseling and Christian discipleship. Tamarisk Tree employees are invited to receive appropriate counseling and to study the Word where they can find the new life, healing, freedom, and love found only in God.
Medical care. Free doctor visits and health checkups are provided as needed.
It adds up to a powerful witness as Tamarisk Tree’s pure, bright light of hope now shines in some of China’s darkest alleys.
Your purchase of handmade jewelry from WorldCrafts allows Tamarisk Tree to provide loving support and a fair income to women leaving prostitution in China. As WorldCrafts orders additional products from Tamarisk Tree, this artisan group can set more women free, providing them spiritual hope and a sustainable lifestyle. Their NEW necklace, pictured below, will be available in August!!
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