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Contact Admin. Vu Mai Hoa not her real name does not know what the rest of her life is going to be like. But there is one thing she knows for sure: She no longer wants to resort to prostitution to make a living. It is here she was provided with not only HIV education and health services but was also taught how to sew woolen handbags to provide her a livelihood and reduce the need for her to engage in prostitution. Yet, the choice of staying free from working as a sex worker is not easy for the 29 year-old woman.
Though Hoa is diligent and enthusiastic about making woolen purses to earn a living, the income she receives from the craft is meager and she is not able to pay for housing, food, and day care for her two children. Hoa is still struggling to not return to prostitution, as she works for a barbershop where men come to have their hair cut and often have sex with the staff.
She generally does not return home until 9pm, when it is time to begin her duties of house chores and being a mother. As a sex worker, she earns millions of dong every month, which is barely enough to pay for her rent and food. Her four year old daughter often has to stay home alone because she does not have enough money to pay for her school fees.
Similar to Hoa, each member at the Song Bien Club has her own story to tell. What they have in common is that they have all engaged in sexual relations in exchange for money. There are 40 regular members in the club, and about half of them are still working in the field, says Pham Thi Mai Thanh, head of the club.
But they find it impossible as long as they have to earn money to support themselves and their families. Compounding the problem is that it is easier for them to earn money from being a sex worker than from doing manual work. And some want to be prostitutes because they hope they will meet good guys to help them out of their difficulties," Thanh says. Understanding this, the Song Bien Club - a self-funded organization - was founded in , underpinning its mission with the need for inclusion of support for livelihoods through micro credit, vocational training, legal support, reproductive health services, and HIV education.