BACK TO NORMAL IS FOR MANNY WOMEN BACK TO ABNORMAL
By Frits Rouvoet on Jul 05, 2020 07:40 pm
After the announcement of our prime-minister Rutte, that brought us the intelligent lockdown on the 15 th of March, much changed in the Netherlands for everyone. That same night it rained questions from women on Whatsapp. This has happened throughout the entire period up till now.
Empty windows at the Red Light District like we could have never imagined. The next day, the team came together to discuss how we would respond to the circumstances. We have had many phone calls with, among others, the municipality of Amsterdam that was really quick in offering an income supplement to the women. It was obvious that we would remain present in the office. God had called and placed us there and we could continue our social work.
In three weeks’ time, about 150 women came by to apply for the income supplement, talk about their situation, share the stories from their past and, sort out and manage a lot of administration.
In these women’s wake came fifty other women with their questions and administration. Many rental agreements turned out to be incorrect and some women were pushed to pay the full rent by advertising on sex sites. Some had to commit fraud to pay this rent by applying for an one time supplement they were not qualified for, meaning they would have to pay this back later on plus an excessive fine. To inform the women about the press conferences giving by our PM and the RIVM, we created an email-account to give them regular updates in English. Through these emails, we also explained their right to lease and how they should respond when their landlord started to push.
Because we got more office space, we were able to work with more people and respond directly to the press conference where Rutte explained that ex workers were allowed to work again from September 1 st . The next day, the team came together again to discuss how we were going to use this period to help these women. We started writing the women’s resumes and letters, collecting vacancies and offering trainings. Due to the large amount of women asking for a different job, we started working with someone with a temporary contract who handled all the work related stuff. Together with forty women we applied for jobs and worked towards their future.
Dreaming, Daring, Doing was confronting for the participants, but very useful to discover what truly makes you happy, what you would love to do and what has stopped you all this time to start living that dream. The DISC Training gave insight in their own and others’ personalities and qualities, which could be used on their resume. This process was rudely disturbed by the prime-minister’s announcement that the women could go back to work on July the 1 st already instead of September the 1 st . Both the women and the team had mixed emotions and thoughts about this: “What are the risks and should we really do this? It is very likely that it will not be that busy at the Red Light in the beginning anyway, so I would probably not make enough. I would like to finish my process and find a normal job, but without any income, this will not be possible. The supplement is not enough to pay the rent of my apartment and my debts have increased over the past three months.” We have talked about their situation with a lot of women. A few have found a job so they can move on with their lives. We also found cheaper, more affordable living solutions for many.
Unfortunately, we had to be realistic with some and understand that they had to temporarily return to the windows to get by, while continuing their getting-out-process. Others expressed they could not handle to go back to the windows again, so they wanted to keep applying for jobs and receiving the supplement. This is something we are trying to facilitate at the moment.
On Thursday, 2 July, I was walking around in the afternoon and evening which was a very strange experience. On the one hand, it was good to go out again and special to see the women again who had stayed somewhere else and had not visited us the past few months. On the other hand, I know that many women here did not want to go back to work, but have to due to financial reasons. What stood out to me was that so many windows were empty. We estimated the number of women we saw at the beginning and the end of the evening. At 20:30, about 10% of the windows were open and at 23:15 it was 25%, which is extremely low. The streets were also very quiet and not much could be earned from the few customers who walked around. One of the girls told us she was only visited by drunk men, with no money, who were bothering her with dirty talk. Some women who saw us coming, called us in to catch up. Regularly, we heard that it was appreciated that we had been present during the corona lockdown. It was a welcome interruption for the ladies to just have a chat or a coffee, tell their story or ask questions at Bright Fame. Apart from that, we gave them €25,- food vouchers when they were not able to do their grocery shopping. During that past period we were able to hand out €8000,- of vouchers to the women, allowing them to do their groceries.
In this picture you can see how a woman, who had nothing, was able to buy several items for herbaby. We had given her three vouchers.
We also had extra costs of €12.000,- to offer an optimal occupation to help the women. It is so special that so many of you answered our emergency fund call. This allowed us to offer this help. Together shoulder to shoulder. Thanks to you we were able to build relationships. Thank you so much. The emergency fund will remain necessary, so if you would like to contribute, go to: https://www.brightfame.nl/doe-mee/doneer/ and donate under the heading ‘Emergency fund coronavirus’.
Tomorrow, 6 July, we will think about ways to help the women, that had to go back to the windows, to apply for jobs so that they are finally able to find a normal job.
Donations can be transferred to:
NL53 INGB 0004 1039 12 in the name of Stichting Bright Fame, indicating ‘Omwenteling’
Will you pray and carry with us?
Bright Fame is an ANBI acknowledge foundation.