Exciting new things are happening at Transitions this fall! We just received a new referral, which means we have a beautiful new young lady to love and help build a future. This coming week, two more new girls will arrive. Time to dream!! Another young lady who is a graduate of our program is seeing her dream come true this fall as well. She wants to be a social worker, so she can help girls who have gone through the same things she has. The incredible part is she has come back to train at Transitions as we have just opened up social work internships with the Royal University of Phnom Penh. Our Clinical Team, which is supervised by Summer Twyman and Dr. Wend Freed has opened up training in advanced trauma therapy and case management to University students and now, our graduate! She will learn and grow in the field she wants to serve in and end up highly trained and filled with insights and compassion others can’t know. We are so proud of her for her dedication and hard work.
This summer the Transitions Global girls took an amazing weekend trip to Kirirom, Cambodia. Not only was it a lovely get away from school and training, it was a journey into the forest lands of their country, a place most had never seen. Thanks to the generosity of a donor, we were able to stay at a hillside resort, giving the girls a chance to be pampered with special meals and amenities that most of us take for granted. The resort had so many activities for the girls, including a zip line over the forest that taught the girls about trust and the benefits of trying new things, even when it’s scary. They spent the weekend kayaking, zip lining, bicycling, playing games and we even had a bonfire with roasted marshmallows! The highlight of the weekend was a climb up Kirirom Mountain to the huge and beautiful waterfall there, which is a landmark of Cambodia none had ever dreamed they would see. It was a wonderful trip filled with beauty, adventure, friendship and growth ending with one girl summing it up perfectly, saying, “this was the best time of my life.” Thank you Transitions Global donors for your faithfulness; none of this is possible without you!
We call her Hope. When Hope first came to Transitions, this would be the last name you would have given her. Sold, trafficked and abused at a young age, Hope was treated horribly. The agency that referred her told us that she had not spoken, engaged in activities, or smiled in the time that they had worked with her.
When Hope came to the TLC, she didn’t smile, talk, or show any emotion. We were concerned at the level of trauma she had experienced and what this would mean to her ability to heal. Our staff went to work – ample love, a sensitive approach, and some strategic therapy. Within months, Hope began to smile and occasionally laugh, though not around strangers and definitely not around men. Hope slowly began opening up and eventually became a new girl, arguing with the other girls, clowning around at the TLC, and having fun. Her laugh was so rare, we all cherished seeing her giggle at things she found funny. Her first trip to the beach was great – seeing her run in the surf with her friends. A little more time passed and Hope began to express a desire to go to school, so she began attending a private school and is now catching up to her grade level. She still had no memory of family or much of her childhood. We continued to work with her, when suddenly, during a therapy session, she had a breakthrough. She recalled having a sister. She could remember the details of a place where she had seen her sister, but it was random. One of our staff knew the place. So, the investigation began. Our social workers asked neighbors and people in the community if they had seen her. Following each lead, they moved from place to place – and a pattern emerged. This young girl had been sold, over and over – being moved from place to place. Within a month or so, they located her. A man in a community was holding her about two hours away from the city. We immediately contacted SISHA, an organization that does quality investigative and rescue work. They worked with our staff to conduct the necessary investigation and determined the best way to get her out. The date was planned and SISHA’s staff coordinated efforts with our staff to get the girl free. A tough decision was made. Do we tell Hope that we found her sister with the chance that we might not be able to rescue her, or not? After heavy consideration, plus the fact that SISHA felt confident they would be successful, we took Hope with our staff. Summer Twyman, our Clinical Supervisor escorted Hope to ensure her emotional well being and to have some oversight. The rescue went flawlessly; though the trafficker screamed and yelled, drawing more attention to the fact that he was guilty. The girl was now free and reunited with her sister, Hope. The two girls hugged, giggled and with tear filled eyes, climbed into the Transitions Global van for the ride – home. The two girls cuddled up, holding hands in the comfort of finding the one link to family and a new future – together.
This January the TLC in Cambodia got a much needed makeover! After a lot of planning, we were able to come up with something that lets us use our current space more effectively and gave our girls a whole new place to spend time. It was a lot of work, but we had a ton of fun doing it together! Every girl pitched in along with our amazing staff and we cleaned, painted, built and improved. The girls now have beautiful pink bedrooms, (their color choice!) and blue bathrooms. They also have a brand new computer lab and a library filled with books in a place they can retreat, study, listen to music and just hang out together. Our staff has a new office and counseling room, and they are feeling extra efficient! It was a big job, but so much fun to see the end result and to be able to show the girls how hard work and team work, can result in something wonderful.
This October and November two Transitions Global graduates came to America to share their stories of healing and empowerment. Neth and Liya are two very brave young women, who came to us after they had graduated from our program and asked if they could share their stories. These girls have spent years healing and growing and gaining strength through therapy, education and giving back to others. They have risen above the tragedy that was inflicted upon them and have taken control of their lives. In that process they asked us for a voice, a way to share, that could help other girls in their situation or educate people about the atrocities of sex trafficking.
We were able to make that a reality this fall as they toured four states and spoke out to thousands of people at colleges, conferences, small groups, and on television. The girls spent time in Ohio, Florida, New York and Colorado, meeting new people and sharing their story of hope. It was so wonderful to see them gain confidence as they shared the horror of the past and their dreams for the future. They felt empowered and free as they took control of their own story and helped educate others in America. We are so proud of what they have accomplished in their lives back in Cambodia and of all they accomplished in the U.S., giving back and making a difference!
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