Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Girls (Therapeutic) Getaway to Cambodia

Eight female art therapy graduate students from Naropa University have embarked on a service- learning trip to Cambodia, working with a group that provides shelter to victims of sex trafficking.  With faculty member Sue Wallingford from Boulder, Colorado’s Buddhist-inspired university, these women are collaborating with Transitions Global to help the organization integrate art therapy into its work with victims.  Transitions Global empowers survivors of sex trafficking with the opportunity to heal and recapture the most basic of human rights: freedom and hope. It empowers girls to become strong and independent adults.

The Naropa students will also work with the Raggamuffin Project, an organization that brings the creative arts to children and families suffering from trauma and Anjali House, an orphanage in Siem Reap that offers education and creative expression to children who live in extreme poverty.

Although they are currently in Cambodia, the students’ journey to get there started months ago with a special event to raise money for their travels.  The “Small Resources=Big Possibilities Art Auction Gala” took place on March 17 in Boulder.  The group raised $9,500 auctioning off items that were once ordinary matchboxes and had been transformed into inspired pieces of art by nearly 50 artists.  Donations still accepted; click here.

While I am uber-inspired by all of these women and their work, one stands out to me as not just an artist but also a dear friend.  Katie Hansczaryk is the daughter of my mom’s college roommate, Donna, who we traveled throughout Italy with earlier this year.  She is a true inspiration and writes:

“In a growing global community, we are connecting to the pain and suffering not only in our backyards, but also on our whole planet. This project makes me feel as though I am utilizing my skills as a Post-Modern Art therapist, and bringing compassion and awareness to a larger community by shining light on a population that has mostly existed in the shadows.”

To read Katie’s blog post ‘The Great Divide’ and to follow these ladies on a truly inspirational Girls Getaway to Cambodia (from eating crickets to meeting amazing children), visit

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