I have been able to go out to the bars more and more now. I mostly go out with the teams on their first night. Because of this, we walk down the same streets and I often times run into the same people.
And it is funny how different my role is from when it was a year ago. I used to go into the bars, build relationships, day-by-day, and then introduce them to SHE. But now, I am a part of SHE and I am the Teacher that the teams have been introducing.
Furthermore, with the more Thai I am learning, the deeper conversations I can have. I can now talk to a woman with a customer and ask how she is doing, If the man is treating her well, or if she is safe. This often times causes the men to ask me if I am her friend and I say ‘yes’.
Often times on a first night, we take a group out, order a coke, and begin getting to know the bar girls while playing a common bar game (Connect 4, Jenga, Hammer & Nails, and a dice game). Then after one bar, we all meet back up at the center of the street before we go down to the next street.
Well it is in these times that I go and talk to the vendors & hawkers. These people will sell you anything you are willing to buy: flower necklaces, cigarettes, bracelets, candy, flowers, DVDs and even toys for kids! I am finding that these people too hate their job and want a way out, but do not think there is an opportunity to do so.
I have fallen in love with these people. They are so awesome. Some selling this stuff are children, teenagers, mothers, grandmothers and people without parts of their body. They are so different, but have so much in common. They are all people looking to be noticed, loved and seen for who they are. Many times these people are the most verbally abused because the tourists are very rude (and sometimes aggressive) when saying they did not want to buy their product.
Now that I go out to the bars once a week, I see some of the vendors try to sell to my ‘new friends’ (the new team) and then they see me and run to me for a hug. This brings a smile to my face. We are making a difference and it is so beautiful to witness.