One of my favourite places to grab nachos in Hong Kong is in Wan Chai on Lockhart Road. Whenever I get that craving for some cheesy and meaty goodness, my mind zeroes onto that one street on Lockhart Road. Before I enter my favourite restaurant, there is a street full of brothels and night clubs, There are x-rated posters and advertisements that beckon people to come and check out the girls that are inside. Usually, I quickly walk past the women and madams, who are calling to customers outside the clubs. I plug in my headphones. I avert my eyes, so I don’t have to think about what actually goes on inside.
Julie is not like me.
I moved to Hong Kong about 6 years ago. The flat I got set up with happen to be in heart of red-light district in Hong Kong. The first lady I became friends with, her name was May. She is one of 14 brothers and sisters. She told me that the only reason she is here doing this job is because she has to provide for her family. It broke my heart that she was here, doing this job, on behalf of other people.
It is with this broken heart, of finding out that one of her neighbours was in the sex industry not by choice, that Julie found herself at a crossroads in her teaching career.
I saw this image of a stack of applications, knowing that there are hundreds of qualified teachers that are able to take care of these children that I loved. I felt God say to me, “Where are all the applications for the men and women out in the red-light district?” Out of all the thoughts I had at that time, this was one that convicted me the most. If no one says yes, who will be out here loving these people? God helped me say Yes and say Yes everyday since.
Julie works for Sons and Daughters, a charity that seeks to reach out to men and women in the red-light districts of Hong Kong. Along with Brittany and other volunteers,
Five times a week, we visit people in bars, strip clubs, and brothels. We take gifts, share hope, and Love with them. A lot of these ladies hate what they do and wish they could do something else, but feel that they have no other options and do not know even what is out there. We believe every woman who comes through the doors have value from God, that they have a purpose in this life. We want them to know that they are special- daughters and sons of God. We hope to impart and show each woman by building relationships and loving them, knowing this is not a short-term walk. This journey sometimes takes years, but it is worth it. They are worth our time.
Sometimes all it takes for us to not avert our eyes and awaken from our indifference, is encountering someone like Julie. It just so happened that it was a week before the women they had walked with were going to return home, equipped with practical skills and job training to start afresh back in their home country. Julie asked if I could come and share my love of cultivating creativity with different communities. So one day after a busy day at work, I taught a Barefoot Love’s Spread the Love expressive arts workshop for the women in their restoration program. For a couple hours, we all forgot about the stressful and loud environment of Hong Kong and were able to be creative together. Using colours and paints, we shared our highs and lows of living in this city, laughing and painting together. As a creative exercise, we shared with each other our hopes and dreams for the future. In our short time together, I was able to share how transformative the process of creativity and art is, by teaching them about different mindfulness and relaxation techniques using watercolour and paints. At the end of the night, Barefoot Love gave curated art kits full of paints, paintbrushes, markers, notebooks, watercolour paper, and more (sponsored by your purchases) to gift to each of the women as a send-off from Hong Kong.
Inspired by our creativity night, we partnered together this Winter season to create a custom set of beautiful cards that are uniquely illustrated by the Sons and Daughters community. We are proud to walk together in the fight to end slavery.