[notice]Major Margaret Stafford reports on a recent outreach by a team from the Salvation Army PE Central Community Church.[/notice]
Its 8 o’clock and a group of folk are preparing to go out onto the streets of downtown Port Elizabeth to meet and speak to a few ladies of the night.
We begin with a prayer asking for God’s direction and that God would send the right people along our path.
It’s been a good evening. Many great conversations have already been had as we serve a hot cup of Masterton’s coffee to those walking past our church hall. What a privilege to chat and build relationships with the folk who walk past our church building.
The night life around our Corps is dynamic. The smells are amazing as the little spaza shops compete with the mielie braaiers and the fruit sellers.
As we walk we meet Maria; she is 44 years old and tells us that she has been on the streets for four years but her face and her eyes tell a different story. She tells how friends invited her to consider working on the streets and that she has not been able to leave that life.
We meet another lady standing on a corner not too far away from the Corps; her name is Bongiwe. She is a beautiful 25 year old who ended up on the streets because she is supporting two children. She had no other way of providing for them, so, with the help of some friends she began working on the street. She looked down and a tear formed in her eye as she tells her story.
“How do you go home and then the landlord sees you have things for your children and they then demand more money. I want a way out please can you help me?”
We pray with her and give her a number she can phone and we leave her with hope in her heart.
Then we meet Yolanda, a beautiful 24 year old lady who puts out her cigarette to speak to us. She is from Umtata and proudly tells us that she has a Grade 12. She saw her friends making easy money so she chose to join them. Now its difficult to leave but if she had the opportunity she would. We tell her about Siyasebenza (a learn to work programme) in Walmer and she promises that she will go there and see if she can get honest work. We pray with her and bring all her concerns before the Lord.
Cindy has been working for a long time and really needs the money to live. She allows us to pray with her.
Veronica says she is 24 but she looks much younger. She looked scared and found it difficult to look at us. She works throughout the night and has three friends who don’t stand too far away from her. We pray with her and for her.
These brave ladies stand and wait for someone to pick them up and for R100 they lose their soul again and again. Every lady we spoke to said if they had the chance to leave they would. When asked what they would say to a young girl thinking of doing prostitution they all said “Don’t start this”.
These are brave, humble strong broken ladies that we have the privilege of praying with and sharing a little of God’s love for the unloved.