There are several ways in which Tamar 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 several ways:
Three nights a week we go out as customers to the bars, order a drink and talk with the women. Our main focus is to build friendships and give the girls someone to talk to about their situation. We invite them to our English classes, pregnancy counseling center and explain the training program when the opportunity arises.
The women working in the bars spend all of their time serving and looking after other people. Tamar Center wants to make them feel loved, cared for and that they have value and are worth more than what they feel they are worth. A few times a year we host banquets in honor of the bar girls. We invite as many girls as possible, usually between 50-130 and pay for them to leave the bar for the evening. We serve them a beautiful dinner and entertain them with songs, skits and games. We want to show the women that they are loved and that we care for each and every one of them. These evenings are usually filled with laughs, hugs and tears. We invite them to our training program if they wish to leave the bars for good and to our English classes and pregnancy center.
Our Pregnancy counseling center opened in October 2010 and is a friendly place for women to come and take pregnancy tests, talk about their fears and receive post abortion counseling. Many women get pregnant while working in the bars, due to lack of education on contraceptives, or neglect to use contraceptives if under the influence of drugs or alcohol or sometimes the women are raped or in other ways convinced into a sexual act. The girls are scared, not knowing how to handle the situation. We are here to provide a friendly ear and alternate solutions to the problem.
In confusion, fear and feelings of loneliness many women desperately solve the situation by getting an abortion. In Thailand abortions are only legal under very specific circumstances: the mother is younger than 15, the pregnancy may endanger the mother’s health and if pregnancy was caused by incest or rape. However about 200,000 abortions are performed illegally every year even though it is not socially acceptable to have an abortion. The women often feel they have no one to talk to or who understands. They need somewhere to talk to about the pain and confusion abortions causes. We are here to listen and love them.
English classes are taught three times a week and these are conversation focused classes where relationship building is a priority. It is an easy way to get to know the girls and learn more about their life. We often get opportunities to share more about what we do at the Tamar center and how we could help change their life.