Transitions: Making an impact in 2011!

It’s been over a month since we shared the success of Small Resources = Big Possibilities.  Almost $9500 fundraised!  Here are some more exciting numbers from Transitions, as we anticipate leaving for Cambodia to work with Transitions in less than a month…

“2011 was a transformational year, full of progress, change and growth.”                             -James and Athena Pond

No kidding!  Check out these impressive numbers from Transitions 2011 Annual Report:

68 girls served———-58 girls reintegrated———-18 families served

Some of the details…

28 girls and their families were served through the Dream Home, STAR House, and Bridge Project

7 new girls came to the Dream Home through rescue and referral networks

8 girls were reintegrated from Transitions’ Programs back to families or independent living situations

You can take a look at the entire report @

Inspired: Arn Chorn Pond’s story in ‘Never Fall Down’

We will be spending an evening with Arn Chorn Pond in Phnom Penh and hear his story in person!  Check out the article below on Patricia McCormick’s new novel detailing his story of brutality and survival in Cambodia.

An Article By Susan Carpenter, Los Angeles Times, April 29, 2012

When it comes to genocide, Hitler is obviously well covered. There are countless titles for young readers about the atrocities he inspired. The Khmer Rouge, which seized control of Cambodia in 1975 and, in its attempts to create an agrarian form of communism, killed millions of its own people, is less familiar territory, especially for young readers.

“Never Fall Down” offers a detailed look at what it was like to live under such a cruel government from the perspective of one of its best-known survivors, Arn Chorn Pond.

Pond was 11 when his village was invaded by the Khmer Rouge and his family was forced to march toward an uncertain future. Pond thought it was exciting at first, but after walking for days, passing babies left crying in the middle of the road and ditches filling with dead bodies, he began to realize: He wouldn’t be returning home in three days as his captors had said.

“Never Fall Down” is written in broken English from Pond’s present-tense point of view, which adds to the story’s authenticity and immediacy. But it is in the end a novel.

Patricia McCormick spent hundreds of hours interviewing Pond. She traveled to Cambodia with the now-45-year-old to retrace his every step during the three years, eight months and 20 days that the Khmer Rouge held power. She retraced his escape through a Thai refugee camp and interviewed members of his adoptive American family.

Though “Arn can recall certain experiences in chilling detail; others he can tell only in vague generalities,” McCormick writes in an author’s note at the end of the book, explaining her decision to write Pond’s true story as fiction. “He can describe the eerie click of a land mine being sprung and the hideous stink of a gangrenous leg … but no one, especially not an eleven-year-old caught in the insanity of genocide, can remember conversations, dates, and places — especially when the perpetrators worked so hard to distort reality at every turn.”

“Never Fall Down” is similar to Dave Eggers‘ fictionalized memoir of Sudanese child soldier Valentino Achak Deng in “What Is the What,” but it differs from McCormick’s 2008 National Book Award finalist, “Sold.” For that book she interviewed several Nepalese and Indian sex slave survivors, fusing their stories into a single, fictionalized character. “Never Fall Down” is a blend of Pond’s memories and McCormick’s research and imagination. “The truth,” McCormick writes, “is right there between the lines.”

And it is horrifying. It’s difficult to believe anyone was able to survive the atrocities Pond endured, which began with forced labor in the rice fields that often started at 4 in the morning and lasted until the dark of night, with only a bowl of thin rice soup thickened with dirt as nourishment. Eventually, as the Khmer Rouge took away professors, businessmen and anyone else with any connection to capitalism, Pond learned they were being executed and pushed into mass graves. He volunteered to learn an instrument that he played with part of a ragtag music group to cover the sound of the killings — a move that likely saved his life.

These scenes are described in horrifyingly vivid detail, but just when readers think the level of human depravity couldn’t possibly worsen, it does. Some forced laborers, whose bellies had become distended through famine, resorted to cannibalism, for which they were killed. Pond was forced to bury the bodies in an ever-growing pile. Then, when the Vietnamese invaded and Pond was forced to become a soldier for the Khmer Rouge, he too became a killer.

Separated from his family and his friends, Pond made his way to a refugee camp, where he suspected he may have survived only to die of a broken heart.

“All the time you are fighting, you think only of how to survive. All the time you survive, you wonder why you don’t die,” said Pond, who, after moving to the U.S. and enduring the usual traumas of assimilation, decided upon a third choice: to live.

It’s a marvel not only that Pond escaped but is sane enough to recount his story. Since 1984, he has been a human rights activist and champion of Cambodia’s traditional music.

Pond’s early life is an incredible story of survival against all odds, of innocence unduly robbed. By turns terrifying, heartbreaking and triumphant, “Never Fall Down” is as likely to inspire tears as it is to stick with readers for a lifetime.

To purchase  the novel “Never Fall Down,” go to

(Article from,0,2388171.story)

(Image from

NCASI Now on Pinterest!

Have you joined Pinterest yet? Heard of it at least? NCASI is now on Pinterest- check out the things we’re inspired by and interested in on our Pinterest page! Find products that support survivors of sex trafficking, art therapy interventions, inspirational artwork, books we’re reading, and so much more! We’re just getting started so keep checking in to see what else we find!

Meet Sok Pisey

Sok Pisey was rescued and began her journey of restoration at the Transitions Dream Home in July of 2010.

Sok Pisey loves the Cambodian dish Lok Lak filled with beef, tomato, onion and shallots stir-fried with an egg on top. The water park in Phnom Penh is a special place for Sok Pisey because of the joy it brings when she gets to spend time there. After the water park, her next favorite activity is making up her face to look pretty!

Sok Pisey thinks she would enjoy having a dog of her own to care for, one with a cute face to fall in love with. She aspires for happiness and forgiveness in her family in the future.

Sok Pisey dreams of using the cooking skills the house moms have taught her to become a chef. She would like to have a good job, knowing how important it is to have an income for food and to support her own family.

If you’re interested in learning more about the women Transitions works with or in sponsoring a girl, click here.

Note: Transitions no longer uses photographs of the girls they work with; initially the only photographs they used were of girls who requested to tell their stories and be spokespeople for Transitions. Recently, due to increasing awareness of the ways images of girls who have been trafficked can be used in diminishing and exploitive ways, Transitions decided to replace photographs with artist renderings of the girls. We think this is awesome.

The Flute Player: Arn Chorn-Pond

Arn Chorn-Pond is the founder and spokesperson of Cambodian Living Arts, an organization that seeks to transform Cambodia through the arts. He has invited the NCASI team to meet him and stay with him at his Cambodian home! What an honor and a privilege to meet this incredible man. Here’s his story:

Born into a family of performers and musicians from Cambodia’s second-largest city, Battambang, Arn was sent to a children’s work camp after the Khmer Rouge came to power in 1975. He escaped death by execution and starvation by playing his flute for the camp’s guards and later fled his captors when Vietnamese troops invaded Cambodia in 1979. He managed to reach a refugee camp in Thailand where Peter Pond, a Lutheran minister and aid worker, befriended and adopted him in 1980.

Educated in the United States, attending Brown University and graduating Providence College, Arn began a series of community rebuilding projects and founded several organizations, including Children of War, Cambodian Volunteers for Community Development, and Peace Makers, a U.S.-based gang-intervention project for Southeast Asian youth. In the mid 1990s, Arn returned to Cambodia on a mission to find the legacy of his family that was involved in the Cambodian Opera, his music teacher from the time of the Khmer Rouge and the stars of his early childhood. On this trip the Cambodian Masters Performers Project, now Cambodian Living Arts.


You can see the documentary that was made about his work below:

Looking forward to Cambodia

Passports. Flights. Immunizations. Student ID Cards. Visas. These are just some of the things on the long list of to-do’s (some of these thankfully are have-done’s) for the Cambodia trip. We will be in Cambodia working with Transitions from May 23-June 13. After many discussions with the staff and directors of Transitions we have a plan for the work we will be doing there. Here’s what we have planned…

Self Care Art Therapy Groups for Transitions Staff: these will focus on self care related activities with the staff from Transitions. Our self care activities will be designed to counter the effects of vicarious trauma, burn out, and compassion fatigue faced by so many care providers working with intense trauma.

NGO Workshops: These will offer basic information about art therapy and its value for working with trauma to staff from numerous local NGO’s. These particular NGO’s work primarily with sex trafficking.

Art Based Groups with the Girls from Transitions: These groups will be done with the girls going through Transitions rehabilitation program. Because we don’t believe it will be appropriate to engage in direct therapy these groups will incorporate art therapy activities that support group cohesion and offer artistic opportunities for building confidence and coping skills. Why not directly therapy? There are so many reasons for this- I’ll list a few although there’s much to say about each. 1. We are unfamiliar with the culture and the environment. 2. We are not there long enough to support therapeutic relationships. 3. Transitions focuses on empowerment and offers their own therapeutic services- our intentions are to collaborate on ways art therapy can be incorporated into this while holding the perspective that we have much to learn about what that might look like.

Group Mural: we will be working with Transitions participants and staff to create a mural at the new Shine School!

Case Consultations: These will be lead by faculty member Sue Wallingford and Transitions clinical staff. They will be a chance to directly consider Transitions’ participants’ treatments and ways art therapy may be valuable on an individual basis.

In addition to this we will be doing numerous other activities to learn about the realities of sex trafficking in Cambodia, and to learn about Cambodia culture. We will be blogging while we are there- make sure to check in on our work as we continue!

In Sum: Small Resources=Big Possibilities Art Auction Video

Our good friend Brian volunteered his talents at the Small Resources=Big Possibilities Art Auction Gala and created a video for us of the event. We are so grateful to have this to document the evening and offer another glimpse into the incredible work the NCAS-I team has been doing. The event raised $9,500- most of which will go towards next year’s Cambodia trip.

Click the link below to check out the video, and stay tuned for more news about our trip- it’s approaching fast (we leave May 23) and we are in the middle of planning trainings and brainstorming art therapy interventions that may be useful for Transitions. We’ll share some previews on the blog over the next few weeks.

Art Auction Video on Vimeo! 

Meet Sopheak

Sopheak loves butterflies and hopes to won her own restaurant someday.  To learn more about Sopheak click on her picture below.  We can’t wait to meet you Sopheak!


Meet Kalianna

“Freedom Begins with a Dream,” and many of the girls dreams at Transitions is to be sponsored!  Please click on the link so you can see how you can help.



Now that the hard work is done raising money to bring art therapy to the girls at Transitions who are rehabilitating and learning what they can truly give to the world, we are preparing for our trip to Phnom Penh that will embark on May 23rd.  We have been busy creating art therapy training manuals for the clinical staff at Transitions, art experiences for the girls, and self care art practices for other NGO’s that work with the thousands of girls trying to recover from having been held prisoner as a sex worker.  So many exciting opportunities await!  We will keep you posted as we prepare for our trip and would enjoy any words of wisdom or encouragement you might have to share.  And please share our blog with all your friends and groups!

In the next few weeks we will also share the stories and dreams of some of the girls we will be working with…today, please meet Nisa