The team at Hope for Justice Cambodia shared in celebration as two of our clients graduated from Shine Career School and Dream Home. Since Lora* and Dina* joined Hope for Justice’s programme in July 2015 they have both showed incredible individual progression. So much so that in the past six months they have been making steps towards independent living, and ultimately graduating from the programme.
Since Lora joined Dream Home and Shine Career School, her therapist and caseworker have noticed dramatic changes in her level of maturity. Lora’s therapist, Lim Phanna, the Clinical Supervisor at Hope for Justice, said: “The fact she is older than the other girls has led the others to look up to her – she’s taken responsibility as a role model.”
It is no surprise that Lora has excelled at a fast pace, thanks to her positive attitude and ambitious nature. Lora worked with Phanna, and with her caseworker Oeun Pheara, to develop a plan to start vocational training. The vision at Hope for Justice is to provide opportunities for the girls to latch on to, take control of and use to start to rebuild their lives. Her passion for craft and beauty led her to a local ethical jewellery trader. She gelled extremely well with the team there and her part-time work has now led to a full-time position.
Lora said: “I hope my friends at Dream Home can see my story and know I am an example that it can be done.”
Each girl is different and the team at Hope for Justice aims to put in the time and work needed to facilitate growth and restoration for every client. When Dina first arrived, the severity of her post-traumatic stress disorder had stunted her ability to progress psychologically, emotionally and socially.
However, with the extra time put in by the social work team and Shine Career School, they soon started to see progress, which was strongly reflected in her therapy sessions. Pheara explained: “When Dina first arrived, she wanted to go back with her family – but when she understood that it wasn’t safe for her, she started to be more proactive in her own future.”
Dina told us: “Thank you so much to my case managers, and all the staff, especially the House Moms who have loved me like their biological child.”
Both girls are now in full-time employment and share an apartment. They are looking to buy a moto and are enjoying their lives with so much ahead of them – it’s such an exciting thing to be a part of it.
Their graduation was a particularly joyful milestone for Lora and Dina. Phanna said: “Lora and Dina were so happy to receive their certificate of education, they felt successful.”
Having come from a place of despair and distrust, they now both have hope for a better future. At graduation it is tradition to have a ‘Goodbye Circle’ where each of the clients and staff get to wish them well.
Hope for Justice Country Director for Cambodia, Josh Bailey, gave a speech to honour their resilience and hard work, giving each of them four medals – representing the four phases of the programme.
The girls are free to live their lives the best they can, knowing that the team at Hope for Justice will always offer their help and support if they choose to call upon it.
Phanna said: “We tried our best with the girls and now we can witness their success. Their success is our success.”
The team at Hope for Justice couldn’t be more proud of their achievement.
*The survivors’ names have been changed for their protection
Article by Amy Powell