Reaching the 10,000
by Kirabo Diane, Operations Director
In Rwanda, there is more than 10,000 sex workers country wide. Let that sink in for a couple of seconds before you continue reading.
I will never forget the girl who had just joined DuHope when it started. We had young sex workers but this girl looked like she was 13 years old. I immediately thought there was no way she’s a sex worker. I thought she might have come because she heard rumors about foreigners giving away money and that she was pretending to be one. After talking to her, she said she was 17 years old and already had 2 children. I was shocked. I could write an entire blog over this young woman as most of us can’t even begin to imagine what all she’s gone through. But I want to talk about the 10,000 women that are going through the exact same thing in this country.
In December of 2019, we had a strategic planning meeting for 2020. During this meeting our DuHope country Director, Jamie Boiles, stood in front of us and said she had something to tell us and a question to ask us. Judging by the tone of her voice and the way she was standing I knew this was one of those big dreams of hers she was about to tell us of… and it was exactly that.
DuHope works with 11 sex workers, some now former sex workers, that have been with us since 2015. As they work beside us, we have achieved so much, and we have so many successful stories. When Jamie said she found out that Rwanda has more than 10,000 sex workers, everyone’s eyes got wide. My thoughts rushed immediately to the struggles, the abuse, the childhood traumas and constant physical and emotional pain that our 11 women go through. And now she is saying that we have 10,000 young girls and women that are experiencing this?! She then asked each staff personally if they think DuHope should commit to helping the thousands of sex workers instead of just the 11 women we currently have.
We took a few minutes to think about it. I started remembering all the crazy, scary, and very sad things our women were going through when we first recruited them. Some needed to carry around small knives with them for protection because they’re easy targets of abuse and no one would defend them. They’d get picked up by men who claim to want to have sex and just ends up abusing them. Others are called names by their neighbors because they consider them of no value in our society. Multiple women have told stories of unwanted pregnancies with different men and not knowing how to care for their kids. So many sad stories, so many women.
Not committing to 10,000 sex workers was not an option for me. Although we have not reached 100% of our goals for the 11 women we have now, we have seen so much change in their lives. They now have HOPE for a better future for themselves and for their children. I thought to myself that if God helped us reach this far with these women, then all we need is to say yes to his calling and He will guide and help us do his job. Which is why I said yes to Jamie’s question.
Everyone in the room felt the call to commit and we all said “YES!” to reaching out to the 10,000 sex workers. I couldn’t be prouder to be working with this amazing team that obeys God despite how scary the calling is.