Channary, like any new mother, is tired. Her baby girl is three months and 27 days old and isn’t yet sleeping through the night. Though tired, Channary has a quiet confidence about her, and a very clearly close relationship with her counselor.
Channary grew up in Battambang, a province in the north of Cambodia with her six siblings. While Channary recounts memories of her siblings with fondness and says that she had a happy childhood, it was not without its sadness. She grew up in a violent home, with her father often acting out against her and her siblings. When Channary was only fifteen, her father’s physical violence turned sexual, and he raped her. Channary sought help, and that’s when she was connected to Hagar.
When Channary first came to Hagar, she describes herself as having mental health issues and being very sad. With her permission, her counselor shares that she felt afraid of trusting, she carried with her a strong sense of shame, anger, and disappointment. The trauma of her past impacted Channary deeply, and it was obvious when she first entered Hagar’s care. Channary was nervous when she first met her counselor but felt relieved once she realized her counselor could help her. Her counselor provides intensive weekly sessions, using trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy. To date, Channary has been taught relaxation techniques, she has been given psycho education, relaxation techniques, cognitive reprocessing, and has created a safety plan. Channary says that now, she understands herself better. When asked to describe herself, she says, “I am strong and brave, more than before. I have more confidence, and I trust myself.”
Counselling can be a challenging process, and Channary acknowledges that it isn’t always easy, but she keeps going because she has seen much improvement in her time doing it. She knows that big change has happened in her life and the way she understands herself and her past. Hagar has given her the tools to build a future, not only through counselling, but through economic empowerment. Channary is training in a salon, learning skills. She shares that she wants to run her own business one day, but that alongside of that her dream is that she will have a happy family. Channary is confident that it will happen if she works hard and continues to be supported by Hagar.
Channary’s husband takes care of her baby while she goes to salon training, but she is also supported by her mother who they live with. She says a typical day looks like an early morning, waking up and caring for the baby, and then heading out to her training. She shares that she wants a bright future for her daughter, “I think counselling has helped me to become a good mother. I will help my daughter to be like me, strong confident and brave.
When she’s not working, Channary likes to relax by watching Thai romantic films. She enjoys cooking, and her favorite meal is Khmer soup. She’s deeply grateful to Hagar for helping her to rebuild her life, sharing “I just really want to say thank you for helping us” and says she’d like to encourage other people to get counselling because she believed it will help them just as it’s helped her.
Hagar pursues the highest degree of care and protection for each of its clients. To protect the identity of our clients, names have been changed and images do not necessarily represent the individual profiled.