At Transitions, we use multiple forms of therapy to help girls along their journey from their trauma and pain toward wholeness and healing. One form of therapy we use is art therapy and often it brings amazing insights and results. Recently Sovann, one of the girls in the Dream Home program, created something beautiful while reflecting on her time with Transitions, and has agreed to let us share it with you. The prompt for this art assessment was to draw a nest. Sometimes people doing this assessment choose to draw nests that stand alone, and others draw them in trees. Some people want to have eggs in their nest, and some leave them empty. Some have mother birds there to protect the eggs, and some have no birds at all. Some people depict the roots of the tree deep and far reaching, but sometimes the trees are not well rooted. The choices girls make when drawing these nests are important indicators of the state of their attachment and security, past and present. After Sovann drew her drawing, she was asked to tell a story to describe it. This is what she said: “This is a story about a bird. When the bird first came to the nest, she was small and skinny and not pretty. But the nest is in a safe place and has flowers and shade and food, and now the bird is big and beautiful and soon she will learn to fly. The tree is a safe place with plenty of fruit growing on the branches. And if that fruit is not in season then it’s okay because the house moms will go to the market and buy different kinds of fruit.” Then she looked up and said, “This tree is the Dream Home and I am the big, beautiful bird who is learning to fly”. Often, in this particular art assessment when there is a grown-up bird depicted, it represents a present adult caretaker, but for Sovann, the big bird is her. And the baby bird depicts her when she first arrived at the Dream Home. As Sovann shared this story with her treatment team, they experienced a deep-felt sense of joy. The number one goal we have at the Dream Home is to establish a sense of safety, security, and protection for our residents. We want to give them a place where they can heal, grow, and learn to fly. In this drawing, Sovann told us that all of our efforts were successful in giving her just what she needed to heal. She’s happy in this tree and while she may not be quite ready to fly, she knows that she soon will be.
Our second semester at Shine has begun and the girls are really enjoying their full schedule of learning. We have our second set of girls learning cookery with a Western chef, English and Khmer literacy, computer class, mathematics, life skills classes and a whole host of fun electives. This semester we are offering knitting, gardening, baking, and for P.E. we have found two amazing outlets for our Dream Home girls, skateboarding and breakdancing!
Thanks to two local organizations, Skateistan and Tiny Toones, our girls are spending two hours every week learning to connect with their bodies and engage in some very cool physical activity. The first hour is for skateboarding, where the girls are learning about balance and flexibility. After just three sessions, they can skate up small ramps and under low-slung ropes. The second hour is for break dancing, where the girls are improving their strength and flexibility. The most recent class taught the girls about balancing on their heads! By the end of class, everyone could do it, if only for a few seconds.
This Summer, Transitions made a new move to a new facility. We had been looking for a new Dream Home with more space and a better program flow. This May, we identified an amazing new shelter that was designed in a way that fits Transitions program wonderfully! We moved in on June 16th with all of our girls squealling and cheering! The girls have an almost brand new home, which is absolutely beautiful and perfect for their wellbeing, healing, and a sense of belonging. Our staff are pretty happy too...they have a great big office with plenty of room for our growing team of social workers, therapists, and care staff. To christen the office, we asked intern Lauren Huntley to paint the Transitions slogan "Every girl is sacred, every girl deserves dignity, every girl needs to dream, and no girl should ever be sold." We are really excited about this new move, as we will be able to serve more girls each year and to operate our programs more efficiently and effectively. I
Things are getting exciting at Shine this summer! Our Cookery class is winding down and the girls have learned so many amazing new dishes. We even have a star chef emerging who will go on to the advanced class and then on to her dreams for the future!
Over the summer a full schedule begins, with Swimming Classes, Photography, Advanced Photography, Art, Health and Hygiene, and of course English and Computer Skills. Shine is giving the girls of Transitions the ability to learn new skills, discover their hidden talents, creativity and find hidden dreams. Your support makes these things a reality, and we appreciate you so much.
Stay tuned for more about these classes and an exciting update about the Dream Home in our next update.
Jacqueline Lee is an InTheField Traveler with GlobalGiving who is visiting our partners’ projects throughout Southeast Asia. Her “Postcard” from the visit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia:
On March 1, 2012, Summer, Clinical Supervisor, and Merry, Country Director, welcomed me to their "Dream Home" to meet staff, experience the first step to their healing program, and learn about innovations in trafficking victims’ rehabilitation care.
Dream Home is Phase I of the rehabilitation process. Girls are referred to Transitions in extreme cases after rescued and then welcomed here to heal. This home is for their safety, security, and rehabilitation after severe trauma (the girls age 13-18 are rescued from sex-trafficking). When I entered the Dream Home, it immediately felt like well… a home. There was a comfy living room, an area with board games, and a box of different types of nail polishes. Summer mentioned the girls love to braid hair and do nails. In the entry way were beautiful traditional Cambodian portraits. Upon arrival, each Transitions girl is able to do a “glamour shot” to have a chance to play dress up, have her pictures up in the home (like a regular family) and relax.
Beyond the entryway, I was able to visit the kitchen, kitchen staff, and see the chores board. Just like in a family the members have responsibilites to take care of themselves, each other, the house – each girl becomes a part of the Transitions family. It is a rotating board with names and items to do for each week – this is to teach hygiene, create responsibility and ownership in their home, and train how to take care of themselves for after they transition out of the program and are on their own – the basics that parents teach teenagers.
We went upstairs and I was able to see the rooms and then the computer and classroom. It was great to see the girls’ personal touches – everything from pictures, to stuffed animals, and stickers filled the rooms. The computer and classroom consisted of computers for the girls to access, get computer training, and play games in free time. Some of the girls had just returned from school, were at the computers, giggling, and looking for games like Angry Bird, a local favorite.
After a tour of the Dream Home, I was introduced to the rest of staff and sat down to learn about the remaining phases the girls go through after Dream Home in addition to the support they get here. Not only do they get to go out on excursions like weekend trips and shopping with supervision, they get counseling, dental care, health care, yoga therapy (and for exercise), life skills education (like the responsibilities board), education, literacy, and vocational training when not in school.
Through Shine Career School, the girls are asked what they would like to do, and Transitions provides training in any career field they can dream of – stepping out of that boundary that society has implemented such as making handicrafts. These girls gain access to learn anything from cooking, to graphic design, and even social work. This is to provide an opportunity for income generation after they have completed the program with Transitions and are ready to move on to support themselves and their futures.
I have added only caricature drawings of the Transitions family because Transitions is part of a movement to stop encouraging the exploitation of trafficked victims, making them re-traumatized by facing their stores and photos in the media, and potentially exposing them to their former pimps and traffickers if recognized. To represent their girls they have now switched to beautiful caricature drawings in order to share the stores and victories, but also to protect their identity and dignity.
Remember those summers at camp where you would come as strangers, scared and alone, then leave as family, confident and happy singing campfire songs… well that applies for what my experience at Dream Home is for these girls who arrive lost, victimized, and alone – and leave confident, empowered, and hopeful. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, an American Psychologist, once said “…our future will be determined in large part by our dreams and by the struggle to make them real.” And that is what Transitions is providing these young women – an opportunity to dream and a future to look forward to.
To learn more about my experience with Transitions as well as other GlobalGiving site visits please visit: JacquelineInTheField
To learn more about Transitions programs and impact please visit: Transitions Global
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