About five years ago I went to the Puur2 women’s event where I was the photographer. Esther Vorsterman van Oijen was a speaker there; I didn't know her at that time. I had had a dream in which God said: "You will work in the red light district.”
When I was at the Puur2 event, while Esther was speaking I felt a voice inside saying: “You will go with Esther to the red light district in Amsterdam.”
So I walked up to her and said: “I'm going with you to the red light district.”
Esther laughed and said: “Okay, I'm going next week.”
We travelled together to Amsterdam to a beauty evening organized by Bright Fame for the women in prostitution. Esther was the speaker this evening.
I was a bit scared and did not know what to expect; I had visions of women covered in makeup with sexy clothes on revealing all and all drinking alcohol. I was so wrong! I walked into a room with about 25 women. I was told that there would be two team members of Bright Fame who were social workers, and that there would be a photographer, a makeup lady and a nail lady. I could not see who was who. I saw a room full of nice ladies all dressed normally and drinking tea. I started to talk to everyone and meet the girls, most of whom were forced into prostitution. Some were shy and a bit scared, and some kept looking at their telephones. They were getting harassing messages from their pimps, who let them go to the beauty evening but were not far away.
One lady had been drinking before she came and was hostile towards me; she was swearing about the Christians and was a bit angry. This was Lina. Esther was asked to speak but suddenly said: “No, Jane is going to speak.”
I said: “No I can't, I've never spoken before!”
Esther laughed and said: “Go on, you can do it.”
So I just stood and talked to the ladies. The room was very quiet. Suddenly, a lady started talking, and Lina suddenly told her to be quiet. After I finished Lina jumped on my lap and since that day we have been really good friends. Lina's story is the first story in my book.
The women were just normal women with terrible stories. Some of them didn't look older than 18. I lost my heart to these ladies this evening. Frits Rouvoet came along for ten minutes to say hello and I met him; he was a lovely fatherly man with a heart of gold. He invited me to come to Bright Fame whenever I wanted to help.
I promised some of the girls to keep in contact, so a few weeks later I came to their Christmas meal. I started going to Bright Fame and joined Frits or another team member walking along the windows, talking to the girls and meeting them in the office. I also met Jacqueline, Frits’ wife, and his daughter. Such a lovely family with a heart for the lost, voiceless women of the red light district. I saw the work Bright Fame did; not just talking to the girls, but helping them in a practical way: arranging emergency safe accommodation, giving them therapy and finding work or helping them go back to their own countries. The love I experienced here was so powerful! It filled me with a desire to do something to help. That's how Red Alert started. Some of the money raised by Red Alert will go to Bright Fame.
Lina is now married, has a son, and lives in the USA. I am going to stay with her in march 2017.