Christmas in the Red Zone
(Slide Show / Regular View / 2 Columns / Thumbnails)
So we threw a big old Christmas party for sex trade workers, their kids, and some other ladies who have recently left the trade, or are dangerously close to joining it. So many of you donated so that we could make it happen. Sorry about the quality of the photos - I think my camera is dying.

There was so much to do to get ready for the party, so we were hugely grateful that a local church volunteered to help us with the preparations.
(Comment)
 
Gifts were packed and sorted according to age. All of the ladies received a gift basket of basic food items and some pretty things for themselves.
(Comment)
 
(Comment)
 
166 gifts takes a serious amount of wrapping paper
(Comment)
 
(Comment)
 
Lots of candy bags to be filled
(Comment)
 
Our sweet friend, Paula. Forced into working in the sex trade at age 8, she has been free for just over a year and works to help other women escape their lives in the brothels and on the streets. (BTW Paula allows us to share this personal information about her)
(Comment)
 
Every party needs balloons, right?
(Comment)
 
As ever, Guatemalan safety measures are pretty eye-watering!
(Comment)
 
What could possibly go wrong with two ladders held together with twine?
(Comment)
 
He's making a list, checking it twice...
(Comment)
 
This craziness started when my friend Sarah wanted to do something to help the ladies and kids we work with. It kinda snowballed!
(Comment)
 
(Comment)
 
Mountains of gifts...the picture just makes me so happy, so I thought I'd show you from 3 different angles. Thanks to all of you for blessing these friends of ours.
(Comment)
 
On the day of the party, the church sent more volunteers to help with food prep. Part of our goal was to give the ladies a really special meal - the kind of thing they never get to eat. The ladies who work in the brothels are often kept almost starving, and the other ladies were also in desperately poor situations, so a good meal was really a big deal.
(Comment)
 
We decided on roast pork...a traditional celebration meal and almost unimaginably lavish for the party guests.
(Comment)
 
Kitchen facilities are usually very basic. This church was no exception, but the volunteers made it work.
(Comment)
 
Extra friends got dragged into helping. They were very gracious about it.
(Comment)
 
(Comment)
 
Zack and his favourite teacher, Mrs. Eisner (Joy), got us in the mood with Christmas carols.
(Comment)
 
They were the cabaret. I love that about them!
(Comment)
 
Yet another church wanted to join in the fun. As well as supplying volunteers to work with the kids at the party, they also provided breakfast since we knew that almost everyone would arrive without having eaten.
(Comment)
 
(Comment)
 
Everyone was handed breakfast while we waited for all of the guests to arrive.
(Comment)
 
(Comment)
 
Early birds were really patient waiting for everyone to arrive
(Comment)
 
And the room soon filled up with happy people and hungry tummies!
(Comment)
 
(Comment)
 
Everyone was dressed in their Sunday best. It's always so touching to see how hard people try to dress up for special occasions. Having visited this little one's very poor home, I was amazed to see her show up in a princess dress.
(Comment)
 
(Comment)
 
It was SO great to see the room fill up.
(Comment)
 
Some of the ladies were super shy about having their photos taken. Others, not so much!
(Comment)
 
Adorbs, right?
(Comment)
 
(Comment)
 
(Comment)
 
(Comment)
 
One of our honoured guests.
(Comment)
 
Nothing starts in Guatemala without a formal welcome.
(Comment)
 
Time for some fun and games.
(Comment)
 
There were lots of babies to love on.
(Comment)
 
Some of the ladies could only stay for a short time. They were required to be back at work when the brothels reopened at 1pm. But they came and had fun and we made sure their gifts were delivered to them later.
(Comment)
 
(Comment)
 
(Comment)
 
(Comment)
 
(Comment)
 
Precious!
(Comment)
 
They came to entertain the kids.
(Comment)
 
It was great to see so many people want to love the ladies and their kids. They're so used to rejection and scorn, so this was fabulous.
(Comment)
 
(Comment)
 
(Comment)
 
(Comment)
 
Sweetiepies everywhere
(Comment)
 
(Comment)
 
And there was still more food to be prepared.
(Comment)
 
They came late and left early, but we were so glad they were there.
(Comment)
 
Wherever she goes, whatever she does, MJ will find a baby or ten to love and smooch.
(Comment)
 
Everyone likes an action song, right?
(Comment)
 
One of our friends and her sweet baby girl. Truly, this woman has had the worst life story I've ever heard. So impressed with her decision to make a big change. She has so much against her, but she's really trying.
(Comment)
 
When you work with kids, you get the really fancy outfit.
(Comment)
 
The kids team played a bunch of games with the kidlets. Next time, I'd hire clowns. Guatemalans LOVE clowns.
(Comment)
 
This sweetie...what a treasure. He's mentally challenged, obviously malnourished, and in desperate need of a bath - but what a joy to have him around. He just couldn't get the smile off his face.
(Comment)
 
(Comment)
 
Giving out prizes!
(Comment)
 
I wasn't kidding about the babies
(Comment)
 
Or the kind friends who were happy to love on them
(Comment)
 
(Comment)
 
(Comment)
 
Mamas everywhere like watching their kids have fun
(Comment)
 
(Comment)
 
(Comment)
 
(Comment)
 
(Comment)
 
(Comment)
 
(Comment)
 
(Comment)
 
(Comment)
 
(Comment)
 
(Comment)
 
Lots of these kids eat only once a day
(Comment)
 
Many have never had the chance to go to school
(Comment)
 
(Comment)
 
Kids whose mamas work in the brothels are cared for by the brothel owners. It's a truly sad life.
(Comment)
 
(Comment)
 
(Comment)
 
(Comment)
 
(Comment)
 
(Comment)
 
She smiled all day
(Comment)
 
So, in true Guatemalan fashion, everything went on for a long old time
(Comment)
 
You'd probably hate the schedule
(Comment)
 
But in Guatemalan culture, being together is what matters, so anything that takes a very long time is just a chance to be together. It's a very different way to view parties.
(Comment)
 
Happy smiles. I just LOVE the happy smiles.
(Comment)
 
A puppet show
(Comment)
 
(Comment)
 
She won a crown in one of the games
(Comment)
 
(Comment)
 
(Comment)
 
No, they're still not done preparing the food
(Comment)
 
(Comment)
 
(Comment)
 
And now it's time to eat
(Comment)
 
The kids had huge hotdogs and all kinds of fixings. And cake. Plenty of cake.
(Comment)
 
(Comment)
 
And the ladies got a heaving plateful of roast pork and all kinds of goodies.
(Comment)
 
You helped to feed them really, really well.
(Comment)
 
(Comment)
 
And then it was time for gifts
(Comment)
 
(Comment)
 
They were very excited - especially the kids (of course), and we had to keep sending them back to sit down until their name was called =)
(Comment)
 
Can I just say that handing out 166 gifts takes a really long time?
(Comment)
 
(Comment)
 
Those of you who donated, give yourselves a big old hug
(Comment)
 
(Comment)
 
Telma said to say thanks to you all. She's the mother of princess pink dress, and she's a sweetie, struggling to survive.
(Comment)
 
The older boys received soccer balls. A big deal here.
(Comment)
 
Little gaffers received blocks.
(Comment)
 
(Comment)
 
(Comment)
 
Friends of those who had to leave early, collected their gifts for them.
(Comment)
 
It took a lot of planning, and really a lot of donations. Some parts of the day were pretty chaotic, and some things didn't go quite to plan. But, all in all, it was a huge success, and ladies and kids who live in levels of poverty and abuse that most of us cannot even imagine, had a really fun time and went home warm, well fed, and loved on.
(Comment)
 
(Comment)
 
We're so grateful to all of you who joined us in this effort. You made a lot of lives a bit happier. Merry Christmas!
(Comment)
Wendy Fast says...
"Love the party you held for these wonderful women and kids, you truly showed christmas loveđź’—" (12/28/15)
Ruth says...
"Couldn't help but pray for each lady whose face I saw as I scrolled through. What a great party! Wish I could have been there! " (12/28/15)
 
(Comment)
Coby Koppejan says...
"You guys did a fantastic job to plan and organize a party on this big scale. Seeing all those smiling faces says it all." (12/31/15)