In January of 2011, a faculty member and 2 art therapy graduate students at the Naropa University began to entertain the idea of taking art therapy to work with social justice organizations abroad. In a matter of a few months these three organized a team of passionate art therapy students, created a sound fundraising plan and joined in partnership with Transitions Global, a non-profit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia that works to support and empower survivors of sex trafficking, and Anjali House in Siem Reap that provides education, health care, food and clean drinking water to impoverished children needing support. Naropa Community Art Studio – International was born! Since then we have been wildly blessed by community support and have currently raised over $50,000 through innovative fundraising and received a $25,000 grant from the Jenzabar Foundation to be distributed over the next three years so we may continue our work and broaden our service learning to partner with other organizations in Cambodia as well.
We made our first trip to Cambodia in May 2012, with 7 students and 1 faculty and we will be returning in May of 2013 with 11 students and 2 faculty. On this trip we will be extending our service learning to include 4 more organizations! Our new partner, Lotus Outreach, an organization originally established to support refugee education, now also helps rehabilitate survivors of human trafficking and keep at-risk students in school. We will be working specifically with their Counseling and Reintegration Program that provides a safe haven for victims of violence and the sex trafficking industry, to bring art therapy training and interventions to their organization. It is an exiting new possibility and one we hope grows as we work together to heal the effects of physical and sexual trauma that such heinous crimes bring.
We will also be spending some time with Missionaries of Charity, an orphanage that houses abandoned babies as well babies affected by HIV/Aids, Women’s Handicraft and Development Association a cooperative consisting mainly of women and young people from traditional farming families living and working in Cambodia’s rural Chamcar Bei village that produces handmade original pieces from local resources as well as using plastics to make recycled products, Chab Dai, a coalition that aims to address human trafficking and exploitation through coalition building, advocacy and research and Raggamuffin, a creative arts center in Phnom Penh committed to the relief of emotional pain and psychological damage in children and adults.
The intention behind this project is for our students to learn about the diverse issues in the Cambodian culture while also offering art therapy as means toward healing. With social justice as a cornerstone of our mission we aim to bring awareness to the many human rights concerns that plague the Cambodian people.
We are so grateful for the outpouring of support we have received from people all over the world in making this a sustainable and mutually beneficial project for all parties involved. It really does take a village ….. a global one.
Would you like to sponsor us through a donation? The purpose of fundraising for NCAS-I is to provide scholarships for the students who are building this program. By sponsoring us you are contributing to our efforts to make this program a reality. We hope to raise enough money to provide scholarships for the next 3 years, guaranteeing the continuation of the partnership with Transitions and the development of international art therapy research. Please consider sponsoring us in this work. You can make a donation through the following link: www.crowdrise.com/ncas-i
Learn more about the Naropa Community Art Studio and its local, community-based beginnings here.
Three Students Talk about their Trip to Cambodia