Thursday, May 12, 2011

An update from Cambodia

When I was in Cambodia in January, I worked with the girl they call "Hope." In January, she didn't recall her family. And today, she has been reunited with her sister. Read the entire story below as written by James Pond, Executive Director of Transitions Global. If you are as moved by this as I am, please visit Global Giving and make a one-time or monthly gift to help these wonderful girls

A Family Reunited at Transitions Global

By James Pond - Executive Director
The ride home in the van.

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.

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