Cambodia November 2011
The Khmer rouge trials continue and stir up memories. It is not that anything has been forgotten; not really, it is just that it is easier to live with the past if you try to forget it. It is, of course, impossible, and the pain, visceral and bitter haunts the lives of the Cambodian people who lived through the war and unsettles their children.
We are in our 10th year of working in Cambodia. Those who were not protected as children and young adults struggle to find the resources to protect children today – it operates like a blind spot on awareness; it has always been thus. Like a child who has never known the affirmation and security of loving parents has no internalised model of what this means.
Whilst there are parents who love their children and are doing all they can to care for them and prepare them for a future free of the trauma they suffered, there is nonetheless an increasing number of child abuse cases that few staff are equipped to effectively manage.
This is an intrinsic part of Ragamuffin’s work: to identify children at risk and provide a safe enough environment within the clinic for them to disclose their suffering and ask for help. Along with the training of staff teams in safeguarding Children using the powerful creative tools of Arts Therapy where Drama especially enables the re-creation of a real life situation and an opportunity to rehearse and refine a response in the context of a safe and supervised training process.
We are, of course, not the only ones. This is an objective for many who work with vulnerable children. But for a child who seeks help from one of our therapy team in the context of the Ragamuffin clinic the therapist is sometimes the first and only one with whom the child feels their cry is heard and the anguish felt understood and respected.
It is very difficult to imagine a time here when there will be sufficient statutory resources to provide such services in Cambodia. For now The Ragamuffin Project is the only organisation in Cambodia providing Creative Arts Therapy, Training and clinical supervision.
The Ragamuffin Arts Therapy Team work with over 200 children and young adults monthly in individual and group therapy sessions. Young people are enabled to express their most difficult stories, emotions and pain through the safety of the imagination and creativity. A creative distance enables them to speak sometimes for the first time about their stories of rape, abuse, violence and trauma. These are unfortunately endemic issues in Cambodia and together with our partner organisations FRC/CRC, ISF, MTP, E&D, LICHADO we are seeking to address what lies at the root of these issues.
Your support is making the difference to the lives and souls of this work. This investment is an investment in the existing and ongoing capacity of this country. It is making a difference and will make a difference. Be inspired and be encouraged. When people feel well and happy in their body heart soul and mind they become true participants of their families and communities investing in the future for themselves, their children and their nation.
"Your expression of care in the form of financial support continues to be an investment in the futures of children, and the adults who seek to serve them."
Kit Loring & Carrie Herbert