FOR most of their lives they have had to earn a living in the sex trade.
Now a group of recently-reformed prostitutes in India have been given a fresh start in life thanks to members of Cosham Baptist Church.
A team of five from the church in Havant Road, Cosham, together with volunteers from the Christian charity Harvest India and jewellery makers Silver Fish Company have been teaching a group of underprivileged women how to make jewellery and sell it to make a living.
The church members, who have just returned from the eight-day trip, gave them tips on how to set up their own business.
They also held pamper sessions for the group of 19 women, who were aged between 15 and 50, and washed their feet, hands and hair.
The former prostitutes, who worked in Tenali’s red-light district, were recently taken in by Harvest India.
Tracey Ansell, 44, a minister in training at Cosham Baptist Church who led the team on the trip, said: ‘It’s been such an emotional experience.
‘When we left all the women were crying.
‘Many of them had never experienced love or affection before so they were overcome when we gave them hugs and support.
‘The experience has made me realise there is hope out there for everyone.
‘These people have been given a new start in life.
‘It’s amazing to think that we have been able to help them believe in themselves.
‘The purpose was to make them feel more independent.’
The women will now continue to train as jewellery makers and earn a wage of £40 a month.
After their training is complete they will earn an extra £30 on top.
Their creations will soon be sent to the UK and sold at Cosham Baptist Church.