In the parish of Tandale, in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania there is a place called “Uwanja wa fisi”, Hyena Square, where near bars, small restaurants and hairdressers, women sell their bodies as merchandise… It is a famous place for prostitution in Dar es Salaam. As she passes by to meet these women, Sr. Cecylia Bachalska says to herself “Lord, I know you are already here!” She has discovered that these women caught up in prostitution have a very close relationship with Jesus! It is easy for them to trust Christ because they know they are loved by him just as they are.
When Cecylia goes to see them, she receives a warm welcome. These women are abandoned by all except those who exploit them. But they open their hearts to the White Sisters to speak openly about their daily life and their living conditions. Aged 17 to 40 years old, they are engaged in prostitution for years, some voluntarily, others forced. For many of these women, prostitution is the only way to survive and pay for their children’s education. As soon as they start talking about their offspring, a smile returns to their faces. Although a job as a seamstress or cook could be a possible alternative, sometimes leaving prostitution becomes very difficult because of drugs; alcoholism or sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as HIV and others.
Sisters Cecylia and Birgitta listen to and accompany the women of Uwanja wa fisi, and consider that fighting prostitution in Tandale is part of their mission as MSOLA.
A group made up of parishioners, members of other religious congregations and MSOLA dialogue with the owners of the closed houses, who, paradoxically, are often members of the parish community!
We focus on women who want to leave prostitution and start the rehabilitation process. The hope of eliminating this trade is difficult, as sex industry and human trafficking are supported by sophisticated and powerful mafia networks. For the moment therefore, Hyena Square will remain one of the most difficult challenges in the parish. Meanwhile at the Salome Center in Tandale, the Sisters offer young women without a family, without studies, without a future, often from the villages, the possibility to get some training. This is one way of preventing these young women from ending up at Hyena Square. The Salome Center teaches them a trade that will allow them to earn a living with dignity.