About Tamar Center
Tamar Center was started in 1999 as a ministry of Project L.I.F.E. Foundation in Thailand. Our vision is to show the love and compassion of Jesus by offering hope, healing and a new life to the estimated 35,000 bargirls and ladyboys involved in prostitution in Pattaya. We do this by reaching out, building relationships, offering shelter and housing, offering vocational training, counseling and providing Bible teaching.
Pattaya City stretches for about 15 km along the Gulf of Thailand and is located about 100 km south of Bangkok. It is the unofficial Sex Tourism Capital of the world. More than 12 million tourists visit Pattaya each year. The main reason for most people to come is the nightlife of the city.
Pattaya is on the east coast of Thailand and used to be a small fisherman’s village. During the Vietnam war, Pattaya became one of the top rest and recreation places for soldiers fighting in the war. 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 veterans returned to Pattaya and this is how the sex industry in Pattaya started.
When girls that worked in the bars in Pattaya returned to their home villages with money and/or a rich foreign husband people took notice and soon they wanted in on the money and started to send their young girls to Pattaya to provide income for the extended families. The families focus on the money the girls can send home if they find a foreign husband or work in the bars without realizing the reality and cost of the work in Pattaya. Nowadays women flock to Pattaya to earn easy money, to finance dreams like mobile phones, cars for their parents, finance the cost of university and schools for themselves and their children and many other reasons.
They travel to Pattaya in search of happiness and financial security; instead they find prostitution, loneliness and disease. Far away from their families and friends many girls desperately desire love, comfort, and help to find alternate employment.
The majority of women come from Issan, the northeast region of Thailand. Issan is the poorest region of Thailand and has a population of about 22 million, most of them work in agriculture. People live off the land, mostly in the form of rice farming. The price for rice has been very unstable in the last years and rice farming is very hard physical work. Flooding and other issues have also affected the harvests and there is widespread poverty in the area and many people are in debt. Most young men leave the countryside and head for the cities in search of work and financial security.
Many girls marry young, and often the marriage falls apart and they are left as sole caretakers of their children and aging parents. They are faced with a heavy financial responsibility and with very little education and work experience, there are not many options for them. They hear the stories from women that have met a husband in Pattaya and they are looking for the same fairytale ending. They are desperate and so Pattaya seems like a dream destination for them. But upon arrival in Pattaya the truth catches up with them very fast and they realize that there only real option in Pattaya is to prostitute themselves.
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 10 am in the Tamar Center building. During these mornings we get the opportunity to pray for each other, and share in struggles as well as blessings.
In 2003 many of the churches and ministries decided they wanted to put an even greater emphasis on working together to bless the city. There was an overwhelming desire to fill this city with worship and love and so the idea of Pattaya Praise was born.
Pattaya Praise is an annual event, where Christians from all over the world gather together in Pattaya to worship and praise God. Each year the focus of Pattaya Praise has been a little bit different. We have rented stages in different locations, cleaned Walking Street, prayed and worshiped at City Hall and done many other things. We try to be creative, but the overall purpose is to bless the city and the people living in it.