Moldova (OM/MNN) — What do you think of when
you hear the word “prostitute”? “Beautiful creation”
probably doesn’t come to mind. But that’s how God
sees the world’s 27 million human trafficking
In Moldova, an Operation Mobilization partner is
sharing this Truth with women rescued from
trafficking. Former prostitutes are finding healing
and restoration through art, thanks to financial help
from OM’s Freedom Climb.
Esther Hippel shares the following update on OM’s
*Eugenia is one of many young women who have
gone through OM Moldova’s business training, but
when you visit her workplace, you realize she is
involved in a business of a very special kind.
“Psychological Art Studio” read the words at the
entrance. The light and colorful reception hall
creates a welcoming atmosphere. Signs, a coat
rack, and a guest book have been lovingly
decorated. And as you walk up the staircase, you
enter a realm of calm and creativity where nothing
is too ordinary to be made into something beautiful.
Everywhere you look are hand-made decorative
Only on second glance do you notice something
unusual about these objects. Upon closer
examination, you see that a beautiful picture is
made of rags: hundreds of small patches of denim
skilfully assembled. A fan on the wall reveals itself
as an old map; vinyl records, old bottles or
newspapers have been made into objects of
beauty and worth.
But this is more than a recycling project. These
objects were made by people who were once
regarded just as those materials once were:
broken, used, and worthless.
Many stories of those who have made the
handcrafts fit into the following patterns:
A woman owns a stall at a second-hand market.
One day the man running the neighboring stall tells
her he gets his clothes cheaply in Turkey and
invites her to join him on his upcoming trip there.
Seeing a chance to improve her business she
agrees, but upon arrival in Istanbul she is
trafficked by the man she thought she knew.
A girl grows up in an orphanage. She is repeatedly
abused sexually by teachers, older boys, and men.
Like all other children, she is turned out of the
orphanage at age 16 without money, proper
education, or connections. Having learned that her
body is her only capital, she becomes a prostitute
and feels she has made a step up in the world–
because now at least she gets paid for it.
Having grown up with alcoholic parents, a teenage
girl waits for the first chance to get away from
home. When she meets a handsome young man
who professes to love her and suggests they move
to the capital together, she feels like she’s in
heaven. One day he comes home with a concerned
look on his face. “Darling, we really can’t make
rent, and the landlord threatened to turn us out if
we don’t pay within a week. However, I have a
friend who offered to pay us $100USD if you sleep
with him once. Will you do this for us, for our
love?” She doesn’t feel comfortable with the
arrangement, but having never witnessed a healthy
relationship, she does not discern the manipulation
and agrees. With time, similar incidents occur
more often until one day she finds she has
become nothing different than a prostitute. She
never tries to get help or report her “boyfriend”
because, though she hates her fate, she feels she
has chosen it herself.
Unable to get a job and not knowing how to provide
for her family, a mother becomes interested when
she hears of a possibility to work in a restaurant in
Israel. Many people from her village work in that
country and send money home to their families. In
fact, almost half of the working population of
Moldova works abroad, so it seems like a normal
decision. It is true that without a job or income she
has no chance of getting a visa, but then
thousands of Moldovans have left the country
illegally, and it is not hard to find someone who will
help her get across the border.
However, she finds the wrong person.
These examples are based on true stories and are
by no means singular cases in Moldova. It’s a
heart-breaking reality, but it is not always where
the story ends.
Restoring the lives of women such as these, as
well as preventing other lives from reaching these
depths, is the purpose of Beginning of Life (BOL), a
Christian organization OM Moldova partners with,
who works with victims of sexual exploitation and
those at risk.
The Psychological Art Studio described above is
one of several centers BOL runs in Chișinău,
Moldova’s capital: A rehabilitation center cares for
victims of human trafficking and sexual
exploitation; a transition house takes in orphans
after they leave the orphanage and helps them
learn a profession and prepare for independent life;
another prevention center teaches young people
professional and life skills. BOL also goes into
public schools, speaking to children and training
teachers, school headmasters and parents.
Working with the arts started in 2010 when BOL
hosted an international conference. Wanting to
present each participant with a small gift, they
gathered a few women from the rehabilitation
center and sewed small dolls wearing traditional
As they worked, they overheard one woman
talking to the doll she was making. She called the
doll by her own name and said, “When you came
here you were naked, but see? Now you are
getting beautiful clothes. You didn’t have a face,
but here you got a new face.”
Witnessing the healing potential of art, workers
incorporated handcrafts into the rehabilitation
program, and in 2013 the art studio opened. During
painting sessions, an artist works with a
psychologist to help the women reveal and
process what burdens them: in the pottery
sessions, the women create beauty from a piece
of “dirt,” with handcrafts they transform the
“useless” into something of worth and beauty. A
comfortable counseling room completes the
Besides having therapeutic value, the objects
produced by these women are also sold and thus
help cover some of the expenses of BOL’s
ministry. Herein lies Eugenia’s responsibility. She
manages the business side of things, overseeing
the work, ensuring quality, filling orders, and
It was for this purpose that she attended OM
Moldova’s business course–one of OM’s
contributions to this valuable ministry. In addition,
OM International’s Freedom Climb initiative raised
money for BOL, covering the expense for Eugenia’s
business training, as well as supporting other
aspects of the ministry.
It also provided BOL the funds to open a shop to
broaden the market for their products. At the
moment, there is hardly any public presence for
their goods. Bigger orders only come occasionally
from abroad, while visitors buy objects directly
from the art studio. OM Moldova offers BOL’s
products amongst the souvenirs sold to visitors at
their training center.
Already for a period of time, BOL had been looking
for a suitable location to open a shop. But although
they searched all over town, nothing seemed to
open up. Then one day a hairdresser based in the
same building as the arts studio closed his
business, and the rooms became vacant.
It was perfect for the shop: a handsomely-sized
room with a big window and main entrance onto a
busy street in the center of town, along with a back
door connecting directly to the art studio from
The workers of BOL clearly saw God’s provision,
and soon the women’s small manifestations of
hope will be displayed to a world that has turned a
blind eye to the suffering and exploitation of the
weak. And for those who are willing to listen, the
small creations will whisper of a God who has not
abandoned the outcast and Who turns rags to
*Full name not included for security reasons.
Primary Language: Romanian
Primary Religion: Christianity
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