Even when the dark comes crashing through,
When you need a friend to carry you,
When you’re broken on the ground,
You will be found.*
For survivors of sexual exploitation and trafficking in Bangkok, Thailand, this is what Global Servant Annie Dieselberg, Founder and CEO of NightLight International, does—she finds them.
NightLight comes alongside these women—offering healthy relationships, resources, and alternative employment so they can heal and reclaim their dignity and their lives. NightLight restores hope and turns survivors into thrivers.
Annie’s passion for people and justice grew out of her experiences as a missionary kid living on various continents. As she saw how injustice led to the exploitation of vulnerable people, it inspired in her a vision of a world in which people know they are loved and valued, and can live in freedom and work with dignity. In 1994, International Ministries sent Annie and her husband, Rev. Jeff Dieselberg, to Bangkok to serve those impacted by issues related to urban poverty. In 2000, while assisting an organization’s outreach in local bars, Annie met women who shared that they didn’t choose to work there, and if given another choice they’d have taken it. So in 2005 Annie started NightLight to offer women that alternative job and a safe place for holistic transformation and restoration.
Annie’s vision for NightLight developed into two branches: NightLight Design Co. Ltd, and the NightLight Foundation.
NightLight Design is a business known for beautiful handmade jewelry, beaded ornaments, and handmade apparel. But, more importantly, employees are given opportunities to learn business and life skills, and they receive employment benefits, scholarships to further their education, and childcare while they work.
The NightLight Foundation is a non-profit organization, providing intervention and restoration for women, families, and communities affected by the global sex industry. Resources include emergency shelter, counseling, job training, continuing education, and legal advocacy to repatriate international survivors. Annie explains, “We’re looking to find the people who fall between the cracks in structures of organizations.” Where other organizations are unable to help, NightLight seeks to find another way.
NightLight’s stateside branch in Missouri focuses on building strong relationships with women in the commercial sex industry, providing mentoring and support services, and increasing awareness of the issue of sexual exploitation through local community engagement.
NightLight’s holistic approach is based on its three-pillar mission: Reach, Rescue, Restore. “The main reason women come into the bars is economic,” Annie says. “In Thailand, women are the primary ones who raise funds for their families. Ninety percent of these women come from backgrounds of abuse and neglect. They don’t have education. They have family problems, pressures, fears, insecurities and inadequacies, and lack of control over their lives.” Annie recognized that it wasn’t enough to simply give the women jobs; they needed to rebuild the very foundation of their lives. This involved fostering healthy relationships; healing mental, physical and emotional wounds; discovering their self-worth and educating themselves. It’s Annie’s hope that the women “will know they are loved, discover their true value, their beautiful identities. That they will live to their full potential and be able to provide for their families, but also develop themselves so they can contribute back to the world.”
Following Jesus’ example, Annie’s work through NightLight finds the lost and forgotten, restores their identities, and instills hope for a brighter future. For those trapped in the midst of darkness, the light is always on at NightLight.
*Pastel, Benj. and Paul, Justin. “You Will Be Found.” Dear Evan Hansen, 2015
Author Darshana Chetti is the daughter of Dr. Samuel Chetti, CEO/Executive Minister Emeritus of ABCOFLASH, and the niece of IM global servants to Lebanon, Dan and Sarah Chetti.