Edmond Degaiffier, Psychotherapist, Washington DC. (Click here for bio)
A phoenix arising out of the ashes of Cambodia’s cultural holocaust: a beacon witnessing the power of social justice and the arts in conquering poverty and trauma. These are bylines that I, as a psychotherapist who has treated trauma victims, believe best characterize Phounam’s transformative experience from a marginalized, socially disengaged “trash picker” into an admired, star circus artist and role model for Cambodia’s youth.
Whether your first glimpse of Phounam is in performance as a beautiful fairy floating in the dark Big Top sky or an awakening damsel rolling across the stage at the crack of dawn, or whether it is a bundle of energy and smiles huddled with members of her audience or eagerly teaching youths of her neighborhood the basics of English or gymnastics, the beholder becomes rapidly swept away by a sense of art pursued to the cutting edge of perfection. This sense is accompanied by a certainty of being in the presence of a very human person reaching out to others, giving back to others, – and especially to the most vulnerable children – from the bounty the gifts she has been blessed to receive and cultivate.
But better yet, read Phounam’s story in her own words, share in vision of her own dreams for a new future as she approaches the twilight of her career as a Circus star. Like so many of us who have come to know her, you will be left with the comforting and exhilarating feeling of being in the presence of a future leader of Cambodia, of a young person who also embodies the hope of Cambodia’s rising generation for a renaissance of the arts and culture in the context of justice and economic well-being for all.
So please reach deep into your hearts and souls, and into your pockets too, and donate to Phounam’s next learning adventure: Going to college in the US. You will not regret your action. I know I won’t.