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Veng is 10 years old… she lives in a poor rural village in Cambodia. She works to help her large family survive. One day she is gathering wood in the jungle not far from her house, this is a task she must do every day to enable her mother to cook food for the whole family. A man approaches her. He has mud all over his face to disguise his identity. Veng is terrified. He repeatedly and violently rapes her, threatening to kill her with a knife if she dares to speak about this to anyone. Veng returns home very injured and traumatised.
Her aunt finds her and they send her to a centre for victims of rape. Veng was treated for her injuries and began to physically recover. She began to meet the Ragamuffin Arts Therapist. At first she couldn’t speak. The Therapist sat with Veng at first in silence. Sitting next to Veng, the Arts Therapist began to draw a picture on some paper offering Veng to join in. Veng picked up a red crayon and drew a line towards the Therapists’ lines. Veng made her first mark and smiled. Soon they were drawing pictures together, slowly building up trust again.
Veng’s first picture was a little bird with all its wings broken. The therapist asked her how the little bird felt…Veng started to cry, “the bird is so sad it feels like it can never fly again. Someone broke its wings. The bird dreams of living with their family but it is scared because bad things live in the trees who hurt little birds so the little bird is not safe to go back home”.
Through the picture and the story Veng created, she began to find her voice again and express her deepest pain. Veng felt so much relief from expressing her emotions. She soon discovered she loved to dance and sing… With the Arts Therapist’s support Veng brought the little bird to life through her movement and song. “The little bird loves to sing”, Veng said as she began to sing a song about flying free.
Veng began to realise a part of her that was not broken. This helped her begin the long journey of acknowledging and honouring the pain of the trauma that she had endured for so long, and rediscovering that she still had beauty and dignity inside.