Tamar Center reaches out to the girls working in the bars and become a presence of hope throughout the city of Pattaya, and in all aspects of the girls’ lives. There are several ways in which the staff of Tamar Center establishes friendships with the girls working in the bars.
The Tamar Centers outreach building is located on soi 6; one of the busiest bar streets in Pattaya. Simply, being in the building gives us an opportunity to get to know the women working in the bars nearby, but we also actively reach out in many different ways.
Pattaya is located on the east coast of Thailand, 165 km southeast of Bangkok. The greater municipal area has a population of 1,000,000 but during tourist high season this number more than doubles.
Pattaya; now a large bustling city famous for the top sun, sea and sex destination, used to be a small fisherman’s village on the east coast of Thailand. During the Vietnam war, Pattaya became one of the top Rest and Recreation places. As the soldiers came with money looking for a good time, girls were sent from all over the country to satisfy their needs. When the war ended many war veterans returned to Pattaya, and that is how the bar industry began.
As some girls, working in the bars in Pattaya, returned to their home villages with a foreign husband and economic support for the whole family; the dream to find the same luck spread through the nation. People focus on the fortune the girls find with a foreign husband, rather than the reality of the work in Pattaya. Women flock to Pattaya in search of financial security.
The majority of the women are from Issan, the north east region of Thailand. Issan is the poorest region of Thailand. People live off the land, mostly in the form of rice farming. Agriculture is seasonal work and therefore causing great unemployment during the rest of the year. Many girls marry young, and when the marriage falls apart they are left sole caretakers of their children and aging parents. They are desperate.
They travel to Pattaya in search of happiness and financial security; instead they find prostitution and loneliness. Far away from their families and friends many girls desperately desire love, comfort, and help to find alternate employment.
The Issan region of North East Thailand is the poorest region of Thailand. It has a population of about 22,000,000, most of who work in agriculture. Agriculture is only seasonal work, causing great unemployment during the rest of the year. Many young people leave the country side and head for the cities in search of financial security.
Many girls get married young and as their marriage ends they are left to be the sole caretakers of their children and aging parents. They are faced with a heavy financial responsibility and with very little education and work experience they see only one solution; to go to Pattaya and find a foreign husband. The women hear stories of other women finding a man to love them and care for them, they hope for the same fairytale ending. Upon arrival in Pattaya they see the truth of the situation; they have to work in the bars as prostitutes.
Pattaya - United Christian Missions
From the early years Tamar Center felt it was important to create unity in the body of Christ here in Pattaya; for the Christians to stand together and support each other. We see each church and each ministry as a vital part of reaching the people in Pattaya. We want to create an atmosphere where we are helping each other and drawing from each other’s resources.
We started holding worship and prayer meetings called United Christian Missions every Wednesday at 9 am in the Tamar Center building. During these mornings we get opportunity to pray for each other, and share in struggles as well as blessings.
Pattaya - Praise
Seven years ago many of the churches and ministries decided they wanted to put an even greater emphasizes on working together to bless the city. There was an overwhelming desire to fill this city with worship, and love. The idea of Pattaya Praise was born.
Pattaya Praise is an annual event, where Christians all over the city gather together to worship and praise God. Each year the event has looked a little bit different. Sometimes we gather on the streets, rent songtaews, go on marches, in city hall, at the pier, in schools, or in bars. We try to be creative, but the overall purpose is to bless the city and the people living in it.