When we first met Ruth, she was working in a Thai brothel in a small town north of Brussels.
For many weeks we had knocked on the door of the small, ordinary house in a suburban street, but with no reply.
The shutters were down, and they watched us cautiously through the cameras.
We persisted though and eventually we visited on a day when they were having the windows cleaned. The shutters were up and we waved to the women inside! They felt that they had no alternative but to invite us in.
Each week we visit the Thai brothels across the north of Belgium, taking a Thai language newsletter with news and legal advice for the women, which they enjoy reading. So, we stepped inside the brothel, and sat down and listened to Ruth. Hers was a difficult story to hear. She had been raped at a young age and then exploited in brothels in Thailand. Eventually she had been approached by a Belgian man who had promised to take her to a new life if she married him. Ruth believed him, but when she reached Belgium, she found she had been trafficked. There seemed to be no escape. After two hours of listening, she thanked us and said “No one listens to me, thank you, I feel pure again.”
Over the next few months we continued to visit. We helped her through two drug overdoses. We spent time with her, and believed in her. We helped her look at language learning and explore other ways of making money.
Eventually, she took a brave step, got out of the brothel, and returned to Thailand.
One day in the Oasis office, we got a skype call; it was Ruth. Happily she took the video camera around her family, showing us where she was now living. “It seems like my life has begun again.” she said. Ruth is a strong, friendly and funny woman; it will take years to get over the abuse she has suffered, but through her own courage and some help from Oasis her life is on the right track.