I just experienced the best birthday present ever for my 41st birthday. As you may know, I am in Cambodia this week with The Young Living Foundation who supports the work of Hope For Justice, an international organization dedicated to ending human slavery. The picture above was taken yesterday at the Shine School, operated by Hope for Justice, as we led 37 pre-teens and teens in some enrichment workshops. All of these girls have been rescued from sex trafficking. All of their stories are tragic, but thankfully their stories are only beginning. The workshop I taught was a trauma sensitive yoga class in which we explored our emotions and the interplay between them and our bodies/movement. Sometimes it is easier for trauma victims to feel their emotions by acting them out in the body. Often victims of trauma will disconnect from feeling anything as a coping mechanism. The pose you see here was "brave" pose and as these incredibly courageous young souls stood in Warrior 1, they shined their hearts proudly out to the world and repeated "I am brave. I am strong."
The gift to me on this special birthday was in witnessing the light in their eyes as we practiced together and seeing a glimpse of the hope that each has for their own post-traumatic growth process. The last pose we practiced together was "Grow Pose" which was a progressive series that I talked them through. Like a seed we began in child's pose where it is dark. I told them that sometimes we may be buried in the dirt and it seems there is no light, but slowly as we are watered, we sprout into hero pose and move into a standing mountain where we start to feel the strength of our legs and our core. Eventually finding our balance on one leg and progressing into a tree, we start to do things we never thought possible as these elements of light, hope, and nourishment give us the tools we need to thrive. In our tree pose we may wobble but we come back to our core and the grounding of our planted leg. The wind may blow our branches, we may fall out of balance, but we just get back into the pose by the will of our hearts and minds and may even start trying new and more challenging postures as we brave our way through this life.
The staff and leadership of Hope For Justice are making this process possible for these girls. Just this month one of their students graduated from high school with a full scholarship to college. She will be studying social work and no doubt will lead other girls someday through this same post-traumatic growth process. I am so blessed to have witnessed their work this week which is strategic, thoughtful, trauma-sensitive, growth oriented, and overwhelmingly positive and hopeful. They are making progress in this field of human trafficking that we only dreamed about 10-15 years ago when I was immersed in this work in Thailand and Cambodia. It is amazing to see the next generation of workers making such a dramatic, qualitative difference in the lives of these children. Please pray for their work and consider supporting their efforts.