Lovely Lisa Stegman clobbered her baby toe on her first day here so we spent the afternoon yesterday at the SOS Emergency Clinic in Phnom Penh getting her checked out. Besides the "broken!" diagnosis, the experience was terrific. So if you are ever in Phnom Penh and feeling unwell, remember SOS.
So we took the doctor's advice (no walking) to mean "more massage." I am not sure if her toe got better but our jet lagged bodies were mucho appreciative.
At 6 pm, we met up with the women from Portland, Denver, and Cincinnati who have come to Cambodia to spend more time getting to know the work of Transitions via an Engagement trip. And all of us took the mini bus to spend some True Body time with the girls.
For me, it was a stunning experience to walk in the door and see the shining and welcoming faces of about 8 girls I worked with last year. To hear my name shouted out, "Stacy!" and to feel the joyous reconnection with the girls and the staff was a show stopper.
Over the next two hours, I got to watch how far many of these girls have come. Girls who were nearly mute and highly defended a year ago are the clear leaders of the house now. In contrast, there are 8 new girls in the home, many of them deeply troubled and in pain from both trauma and/or addiction.
It is not surprising that they suffer so but it is a comfort to know what growth awaits them. I think in large part that is my job: to hold the space for them with the firm conviction that they are just around the corner from rediscovering (or discovering) their inner girl - the intrepid and bold and brave and hilarious and smart creatures they are. My job is to see it in them, the girl they cannot yet know.
So we set off on our agenda of exploration and fun. The room was packed with women from the U.S. and Cambodian girls. We were so lucky to have Kristin Schultz with us from Portland. She is a sign language interpreter and it was a WONDERFUL discovery for the True Body Project to work with her.
The girls worked to introduce themselves by identifying something they are and something they feel. So for example, "I am a girl and I am happy" was a very popular choice. Kristin showed us the sign for these and we each worked to do them. Creating physical gestures around feelings was a very powerful notion for me. As Kristin also pointed out, it gave us a universal language that didn't require a translator. We were unified in showing each other sadness and happiness and gratitude.
As the evening progressed, as the movement created an opening for bravery, the girls wanted to know more.
How do I show pain?
How do I show loneliness?
How do I show homesick?
How do I show hurting?
Good questions, eh?
In the end, the True Body curriculum creates the space for these moments. The activities are tools to create enough space and time for the real work to unfold. The real work has far less to do with what I have to offer and everything to do with what the girls need to know and process to heal.
Some of the girls have come such a long way and some of them have a terrifyingly long way to go. But luckily, James and Athena Pond and their magnificent staff, board and friends are committed in a way that is hard to fathom. They are committed deeply, every moment, for the long haul.
It is an inspiration like no other.
And I am so grateful for the opportunity to watch and learn from people who dig in and stay. Steadfast and faithful.
That is the real magic. That is the real reason these girls heal.