"All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible." ~ T. E. Lawrence
Part of my team went to Door of Hope today. DoH is a “day hostel” for female prostitutes and drug addicts in the most desolate part of Tel Aviv.
After making the one and a half hour drive from Haifa, our contact led us along a dingy street reaking of sun-baked garbage and humane excrement, until we reached an alley nestled in shadows. The wall was painted in bright and happy colors to read “The Door of Hope”. We turned down this alleyway, stepped over a rotten plywood bridge that covered some exposed sewer piping, and stopped at a metal door. The manager (I’ll call her Hope), a sweet and strong woman who’s my age, let us in.
Down a flight of stairs we went, the tile steps slick with water. At the landing we were greeted with more pools of water on the floor, a sagging countertop, pealing paint, and the unmistakable smell of sewage. Hope showed us around the basement that had a rudimentary kitchen and bathroom, some beds set up, and a huge damp closet. Then she showed us a cork board with photos of some of her “girls”. There was a table with fake flowers and some candles set up along some of the photos. Hope explained to us that this was to honor and remember those girls who had come to DoH previously and had now passed away. Some of them were so young, maybe in their thirties at most. And many had died from being beaten, drug overdoses, and illnesses contracted from living on the streets as prostitutes. But there was another set of photos too. These were of women who had escaped the vicious cycle of drugs and sex and were now free and living healthy lives!
I spent the day cleaning up black water from the sewage leaks, killing dozens of cockroaches, making sandwiches and coffee, doing laundry, making beds, and visiting with the “girls” (most were about the age of my mother).
Many of the women were brought into the sex trade by pimps, then the trend in the area became brothels. And once they started to look too old and rough to be wanted by the brothels, they started to sell themselves on the street, often to feed a drug addiction. Others had married drug addicts and resorted to selling their bodies so bring in an income for continued drug abuse. Some of them have daughters who have now joined them in the sex trade, creating a generational cycle of brokenness.
Today was long and exhausting. But above all, it was an honor. To come in to that place, help in practical ways, and show love to beautiful women who have not known what it is to be adored and cherished. They don’t know their value or their beauty. But we got to treat them like royalty today. To drape them in new clothes, come across the globe to feed them, to see them. I am the thankful one.
And I pray that day by day their eyes will be opened to the reality that they are fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God.