Churches battle poverty to help free sex workers

NEW START Tracey Ansell with workers who make jewellery in India. Picture: Harvest India
NEW START Tracey Ansell with workers who make jewellery in India. Picture: Harvest India
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PORTSMOUTH Christians have returned to check up on women they helped free from the sex trade in India.

Members of several Portsmouth churches have returned to a community in western India to check on the progress of a project they started in 2012.

The News reported last year about a team of people led by Cosham Baptist church pastor Tracey Ansell, who went out to teach prostitutes in the town of Peddapuram how to make and sell jewellery instead of working in the local sex trade.

‘We have to be really sensitive about how we work with these women. We just show them a different way of living, a different way to make money,’ she said.

‘By having a job, earning an honest moral wage and getting their children into education the women are able to have a sense of worth.’

The team which returned to Peddapuram were excited by the progress the women had made since 2012.

‘The difference in them is amazing, they were not only freed from prostitution, they were freed from the feeling they had nothing to offer life,’ said Tracey.

The project in Peddapuram is part of an initiative set up by Harvest India, a Christian charity which seeks to help the poorest people in India.

‘Poverty is the number one issue. People don’t want girls because of the dowry system in India but women can still be used to make money in the sex industry,’ said Tracey.

‘This is their business, their lives.’

Since 2012 demand for the jewellery has grown and it is now sold in Canada and America – and even the Acorn and Vine Bookshop in Palmerston Road, Southsea.

There is another trip planned for 2014 which is open to anyone who wants to learn about the work of Harvest India and see how people’s lives are being changed.

‘When you see how happy and full of joy people are when they don’t know where the next meal is coming from or where they are going to sleep it’s really challenging,’ Tracey added.

‘It helps people to appreciate what we do have and that happiness does not come from material wealth.’

For more information or to find out about the 2014 trip go to Harvestindia.org or email Tracey at tansell@live.co.uk.