I. The Overview of Be-yourself Arts Therapy Project: by Serey Samchet (Be-Yourself Arts Therapist and Project Coordinator)
Be-yourself developed from Ragamuffin’s Arts Therapy Clinic as a Khmer led project in 2013. The aim of this project is to bring healing, nurture, honor, and celebration to the lives of the most vulnerable children and young people in Cambodia. The project is so passionate to offer creative arts therapy as a natural and powerful healing process to individuals and group of young people and adults who are suffered by psychological problems in order to discover their essence of who they are, their connectedness with others, their ability to heal from traumatic experiences and grow, and to lead a good quality of life. Our project strongly believes in the power of arts therapy in enabling people to be themselves, to transform and celebrate their life, other people, and their world.
II. Project’s outcome
Throughout this whole year, the project has worked in collaboration with both international and local partnership NGO’s such as M’Lop Russey, Domnok Tek, Cambodia Acid Survivors Charity, LICHADO, Chab Dia, International Justice of Mission and Citipoint in order to deliver arts therapy, supervision, training, and emergency de-briefing to key staff including: social workers and counselors, community leaders, profound disability children and adolescents, foster families, and other traumatized young orphanages . As the result of these services, there were remarkable positive impacts on people who we have been directly working with as well as people who received the services and support from them in various ways such as self- development, improvement of their personal and professional quality at work and home, improvement of stress management and self-care skill, and gaining knowledge of mental health and other beneficial learning related to their work.
III. Future Plan of the project
Thank you so much for your contributions to supporting this vitally important work in Cambodia.
Songkites 2014 (Euan Gray & Carrie Herbert)
“I really think my music and the music from Songkites can help young people in Cambodia to believe in who they are and believe in themselves”. Kan Pich (Songkites Season 1)
Songkites supports Cambodian songwriters to write, record and release original songs. www.songkites.com.
With a focus on encouraging creativity and originality through authentic expression and inspiration, songwriters participate in a series of workshops to explore and develop their creative process. Throughout the workshops they receive individual coaching from professional songwriters and therapeutic support from professional Arts Therapists. This helps them develop both technical skills and understand and express themselves assertively as they explore life experience in their songwriting.
They then prepare a demo of their original song which is recorded at Songkites Studio. This new song is mixed, mastered and then released internationally.
The experience culminates in a special live performance concert at one of Phnom Penh's best music venues. Each songwriter is then supported to create their own merchandise to accompany and promote their music, given further opportunities to perform and showcase their music and encouraged to be involved with future Songkites programs.
Ultimately, the aim of Songkites is to foster a community of Khmer songwriters who nurture and support each other, and help to promote the emergence of more creative, original, life-affirming music.
Cambodia’s most loved traditional kites are called Khleng Ek. Literally meaning 'unique kite', they are celebrated because they produce musical tones as they fly. Traditionally, they are flown to give thanks for bountiful harvests, however the practice was suppressed during the Khmer Rouge period until recently.
Kites are wonderful symbols of freedom and creating original music is about being free; free to be yourself and express yourself authentically through music. Creativity knows no boundaries, yet it too was suppressed in Cambodia's traumatic recent history. Songkites encourages emerging songwriters to take hold of the string, and let their musical kite fly free!
How It Came About
Songkites emerged in the inspiring environment of Ragamuffin Boathouse, an Arts Therapy and Creative Hub in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Ragamuffin Co-Directors Carrie Herbert and Kit Loring, both songwriters, have long professed the important role of music in creative and personal development. On the top floor of the building, songwriter, educator, and Ragamuffin’s therapeutic music facilitator, Euan Gray had been setting up a recording studio called Songkites Studio. With their shared passion for encouraging growth through songwriting, Carrie and Euan created the project with the generous assistance of seed funding from a private donor and match funding from BBC Loy 9.
The group workshops, rehearsals and performances take place in an inspiring multi-purpose space called 'The Boat Room'. Looking over the boat room is Songkites Studio, recording studio where the songs are created, recorded and mixed. Get in touch if you want to know about our first Album launch and Songkites Season2.
“Songkites is the place to discover who I am. I knew about music but didn’t know how to make a song from my heart. Jimmy Kiss (Songkites Participant, Season 1)
Ragamuffin Cambodia Projects Update
Ragamuffin International is supporting individuals and teams who work in a diverse cross-section of issues and needs in Cambodia from child protection, violence, abuse, trafficking and human rights issues. Continuing to capacity build, supervise and develop staff care and well-being in frontline organisations, teams and individuals. Ragamuffin International also supervises and overseas a number of projects including:
Be-Yourself Project is a Cambodian led service currently working with children and adolencents who have survived acid attacks, are caught up in domestic violence, abuse and land evictions. Here is a summary of our work with Acid Attack survivors:
‘I See You’ Creative Arts Therapy for Acid Attack Survivors, Staff Capacity Building and Therapeutic Support.
The areas of Psychological treatment, staff capacity and care have been identified as critical areas where there are gaps in services and capacity for survivors of acid attacks in Cambodia. Cambodian Acid Survivors Charity (CASC) and Ragamuffin have been exploring a project that will provide a therapeutic programme to aid the recovery of acid burn survivors and their families.
Acid attacks are a pre-meditated form of violence that leaves survivors physically, socially and emotionally and psychologically scarred. Through a process of group and individual creative arts therapy the impact on the children has been powerful as said in their own words below:
“I feel so happy to be here as it is my first time in life to feel loved and belong to the group. So far, I do not have friends to play with me as they said ‘my face is like a monster’ and this group makes me feel that I am a child who deserves to play and to be friends with other children” (Quote from one of the children in the group)
“Though I am just a thirteen year old child who found myself helpless to change problem in my family, I believe if I could be strong, my parents might begin to be strong too. ” (Quote from one of the children in the group)
The group found this journey full of profound learning and sharing experiences. They felt they could get support and discover strength from other children in the group. They began to see positive changes and reported a decrease of their feelings of distress and disturbance and began to report how they were better able to manage everyday life.
“Before I came to this workshop, I got a lot of nightmares. Now, I noticed that there is no nightmare after I found my inner helper in a session we did and a safe place with the therapist and at special Ragamuffin house” (Quote from one of the children in the group)
The group has begun to find the resilience through their time together. Being together has given the opportunity for each kid to be connected with each other, naturally learn and improve socialization skill, exchange positive communication, and receiving group support which resulted in self-healing and personal development.
“I feel so moved to see how much the children have bloomed and grown since they attended these sessions, the parents can't stop talking about it too” (Quote from CASC’s staff)
Songkites www.songkites.com - is a new programme to inspire creative songwriting and leadership in Cambodian young people. This exciting new initiative is the fist of its kind in Cambodia and is focusing on the themes of conflict transformation, relationships and forgiveness to help young people to express and communicate original songs to a broad audience in Cambodia. 13 partcipants have attended group and individual workshops and sessions, the programme has a strong therapeutic core to help channel the expression of their life experiences into songwriting and music. A professional recording studio now based at Ragamuffin run by Euan Gray means these songs have been recorded and musically developed to a high standard. The songkite participants are about to launch their new original music in early 2014 to be featured on a special BBC movie in Cambodia, amongst other excting live opportunities.
'Songkites if my first ever musical family, its an unbelievable experience!"
"I have realised how powerful music is to heal and to express myself make sense of all the hurt and making this music, it makes me feel different, stronger and more able to face life's challenges"
"Songkites has made me feel so much more confident and able to express who I really am, I'm not afriad to be myself anymore...I think so many young people in Cambodia need this kind of programme for the future of this country"
(Quotes from Songkite participants 2013)
We are hoping to run another season of Songkites in 2014 and continue to develop the leadership and mentoring skills of this years participants. Watch this space and please contact us if you want to be more involved.
As the end of year draws to a close there is much to celebrate as Ragamuffin continues to seek to make healing and creative opportunities for people to restore or bring back light into their lives and so impact those around them. Every week in Ragamuffin boathouse there are many examples of how this is happening with children and adults. To celebrate and honour this year we are holding a special event to close this season:
Life-Creative - Festival of Lights on the 14th December brings together Cambodian's and International guests in a collaborative creative experience on the theme of light and the impact that it makes in our lives, our families, communities and the world around us.
How you are making a difference?
You become part of creating this light too...as we continue to pioneer a new operational model, everything you contribute makes a difference to the services we provide. As mental health services remain still so very limited in Cambodia, there still exists such enormous need. If you would like to know more information on any of the above please contact us - firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for being a part of this voyage and helping making a difference to so many people's lives who have come on board!
Carrie, Kit and The Ragamuffin Team Cambodia.
The Ragamuffin Boathouse is a HUB for Arts Therapy, Creativity & Social Action.
An inspiring sanctuary in the heart of Phnom Penh, Cambodia
www.facebook.com/RagamuffinBoathouseCambodia email@example.com Phone: +85512521032
The Boathouse is an inspiring sanctuary in the Heart of Phnom Penh. Its peaceful light filled spaces wrapped in nature provides a unique environment and the conditions in which we can take risks, create, build relationships, and develop personally professionally and spirituality.
Home of Ragamuffin International/Cambodia INGO, Cloudstring Studio and the Boathouse HUB for creative professionals and freelance businesses.
Our Vision is the development of a model of collaboration between NGO’s and professionals to foster, sustainability, creativity, relationships, community and spirituality.
Who’s on board?
Extracts of whats going on?
Ragamuffin International is supporting individuals and teams who work in a diverse cross-section of issues and needs in Cambodia from child protection, violence, abuse, trafficking and human rights issues. Continuing to capacity build, supervise and develop staff care and well-being in frontline organisations, teams and individuals.
Be-Yourself project is currently working with children and adolencents who have survived acid attacks, are caught up in domestic violence, abuse and land evictions. A programme in partnership with M'Lop Russey is helping young adult orphans to be transitioned out of residential care into a community style foster care programme as Cambodia begins its move to reduce insitutionalised care.
Cloudstring Studio has recently launched Songkites - a new programme to inspire creative songwriting in Cambodian young people. This exciting new initiative is the fist of its kind in Cambodia and will be focusing on the themes of conflict transformation, relationships and forgiveness to help young people to express and communicate original songs to a broad audience in Cambodia. www.songkites.com
Boathouse HUB - home to creative professionals, innovation in rural povery solutions lab, environmental politics and ethnic minority specialists. Bringing sustainability, networks and collaboration to the traditional NGO model.
Life-Creative - International Peace Day on the 21st September brings together Cambodian's and International guests in a collaborative creative experience on the theme of forgiveness and peace - a pertiant theme for Cambodia at this present time.
As we continue to pioneer a new operational model, everything you contribute makes a difference to the services we provide. As mental health services remain still so very limited in Cambodia, there still exists such enormous need. If you would like to know more information on any of the above please contact us - firstname.lastname@example.org.
‘I see you’ Creative Arts Therapy for Acid Attack Survivors
A Partnership between Ragamuffin Cambodia and the Cambodian Acid Survivors Charity (CASC)
CASC was formed in March 2006 by its partner organization, the Children’s Surgical Centre (CSC). CSC is one of few health care facilities in Cambodia providing free medical care to acid burn patients. Because CSC is a centre for general rehabilitative surgery, their ability to meet the needs of survivors of acid attacks, beyond immediate medical treatment, is limited. The social stigma surrounding attacks often leaves survivors feeling isolated, abandoned and shunned by family members, communities and service providers. Consequently, CSC made a commitment to create an organization to address the long-term needs of survivors of acid attacks. CASC now provides holistic care to people bearing such scars in a secure, compassionate and non-judgmental environment.
Acid attacks are a pre-meditated form of violence that leaves survivors physically, socially and emotionally and psychologically scarred.
Innocent victims - Children are often caught up in acid attacks and not only are witness to the violence and severe injuries of a parent but suffer too physically, socially and emotionally.
'I see you' is an Arts Therapy programme designed to assess and support the psychological needs of children such as these.
Ragamuffin are providing an Individual and group Arts Therapy programme in collaboration with a CASC social worker in an intial pilot funded by The Kadoorie Foundation. The Arts Therapists are working closely with the CASC team in the ongoing support and care planning for clients to ensure continuity of care.
"The children come to Ragamuffin Boathouse and can play out all their energy and distress. Their behaviour changes when they feel safe in this sanctuary to be themselves without any judgement or expectation. They can channel their feelings through the Arts and begin to share their deep feelings with the Arts Therapist. The parents have noticed the difference already in their behaviour. Every behaviour a child shows communicates something they are trying to say. 'I see you' is a unique programme that gives these children the chance to be deeply seen, heard and given a voice to express all the locked up feelings and distress inside - in being deeply seen and valued they can begin to 'be themselves"
The programme is having the following benefits:
So much more is needed:
Long term Arts Therapy provision with both the children and their parents/ caregivers is needed to enable these children and their families to manage and live with complex injuries, social stigma and psychological suffering as a result of acid attacks. If you are interested in supporting this project please contact us at: email@example.com
Ragamuffin House is a beautiful sanctuary in the heart of the city of Phnom Penh, and home to Ragamuffin Cambodia - an International Creative Arts Therapy Organisation (est.1999). We provide innovative and pioneering programmes that support those experiencing trauma or mental health problems. Our projects current programmes include:
Be-Yourself - is Cambodia's first Cambodian led Arts Therapy Service for Children and Adolescents.
Its been the result of training, pilot programmes and funding support from people like you!
Our team of Cambodian Therapists are able to offer tailor made therapeutic programmes for individuals, groups and communities.
They are working with children who have experienced trafficking, abuse, violence or who are living with HIV and experiences of poverty and complex social backgrounds.
Mental health services are vital to well-being and resillience for young people and their families, especially in countries where there are little resources and support. Arts Therapy provides a natural and gentle approach to empowering individuals and groups to realise who they are and their value and worth in the world.
Our team are witnessing a remarkable impact.
Ragamuffin’s Arts Therapy Clinic for children and young people has continued to develop in partnership with six organisations, Ragamuffin’s Arts Therapists are working with children and young people with diverse needs and who are often from complex and extremely difficult socio/economic backgrounds for example:
Working with Partner Organisations enables us to develop joined up services and strengthen the capacity of each organisation’s psychological services. Training, the development of policies and protocols for safeguarding children, and providing programmes of individual and group Creative Arts Therapy all serve to meet children in their need and deepen an understanding of the emotional and psychological needs of children for the staff team. This helps create a response to children that is insightful and sensitive. To this end, Ragamuffin Therapists also provide a specialist service that works alongside social workers, caregivers and medical staff.
“As I have observed Ragamuffin therapists work, I have gained new knowledge and have learnt a whole new way of being with children. For example, I have been learning how to encourage children to play, and to help them manage their challenges without reacting. In the past it was easy to be angry with the children, I didn’t know how to deal with their behaviour, as a result of our partnership with Ragamuffin, I have changed, I can encourage and support children, its helped me to understand and be patient. I’m now encouraging mothers and caregivers to learn how to play in this way with children – it’s a healing way, and I’ve seen the positive difference it makes. It’s increased my ability and confidence to be actively involved with the children and families.” (E & D Staff Member)
“ We have received, support encouragement, patience, motivation and new opportunities. Ragamuffin is a safe and peaceful place who we have been fortunate to link with and bring troubled and traumatised children from the community to get support. Our team have been able to observe how therapists work with children and learn so much in this process. It’s helped me to recognise and discover how to strengthen, value and understand partnership working, the management of collaboration and relationships between organisations.” (Director of E & D)
As a result there has been an increased recognition of the value and impact of arts therapy with those who are suffering distress. Increase corporation. Increased awareness in the whole organisation of mental health issues, arts therapy and sensitive effective responses and programme development. It also helps us to be more in tune with the need to prioritise mental health issues in the community and understand how they impact on a person, their family and the community.” (Director E & D)
The future of the Arts Therapy Clinic
I hope this Clinic will continue to help children in Cambodia and provide them a chance to explore, express, and acknowledge their pain and deeply felt emotions so that they can take their place in the world and make progress. The clinic allows traumatized children to search deep within themselves and helps them gain inner strength and confidence”. (Panchakna Khlok)
“I think it is so important for Ragamuffin’s Arts Therapy clinic to continue in the long term. So far, I have provided ongoing therapy to fragile and distressed clients- all my clients suffer severe depression, anxiety, and behavioural problems that are caused by sexual abuse, domestic violent, addiction, and HIV/AIDS. The clients have found this therapy process as the breath and sacred space to look deeply into their inner world that is full of unresolved conflict. And, it also helps them to find new positive relationship between their inside and outside world, and to navigate new hope, new way to solve their conflict, and to embrace self-love one again. (Serey Samchet – Arts Therapist)
You have and you can continue to make a difference by supporting our Cambodian Arts Therapy Team!
Thank you for being part of Be-Yourself Arts Therapy Service in Cambodia - committed to making a difference to he lives of traumatised and vulnerable children.
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