Rachana: Digital Animator
Filed Under: Aftercare, Blog, Cambodia, Reintegration, Success Stories
HER FUTURE IS HERS
Reintegration Success Stories
It’s February in Cambodia and the hot season temperatures are reaching their peak for the day. Rachana sits across from us, wearing an ironic “I love Winter” long sleeve shirt as the thickness of the heat envelops the small room. The ceiling fan whirls above our heads in its efforts to keep us cool in the near-empty concrete room where we have gathered to talk. Her long, black hair is thrown back into a messy bun and her make-up free fresh face accentuates her anticipant brown eyes. Somewhat distracted as she talks, Rachana’s mind is on bigger and better things today.
Rachana came to Destiny Rescue around nine months ago. When she first arrived, Rachana tried to figure out what she was good at and more importantly, what she was passionate about. She tried her hand at a range of vocational training opportunities we offered but nothing really stuck. But then the aftercare team noticed something special about Rachana – that her real desire and talent lay in drawing.
Starting at 16, Rachana had a natural-born talent for drawing. The Aftercare Manager with Rachana’s Caseworker saw an opportunity to work alongside Rachana in something she was passionate about. They enrolled her in a drawing course at a local renowned Japanese-style School of Art. Here, she learned how to draw and develop her skills and once she had been given a blank canvas to start, she didn’t want to stop – and she didn’t. All the crumpled paper sheets, pencil shavings, and hand cramps have paid off because they brought Rachana to this moment.
Today, however, is not a typical day. This particular sunny day is brighter than most because Rachana is off to an interview. Not just any interview, but one with a global animation and production studio that strives to give Cambodians a foot in the door to the international animation industry. IThinkAsia aims to use animation to empower and up-skill Cambodian women like Rachana. In her case, they are presenting her with an incredible opportunity for vocational training.
As we wait with Rachana before her interview, she decides to show us some of her work. Carefully and delicately, Rachana slides her pieces out of the protective sleeves she has trusted to keep them safe. And they are beautiful. The detail in the lines, the shading in the curves, and the pieces as a whole is awe-inspiring. Just like that, as we were standing around admiring her work, it was time for Rachana to go. Her giant smile betrayed her shyness – yet, while nervous, she just couldn’t wait! With an enthusiastic wave, she was off to a potentially life-changing interview. Only time would tell…
One year later, we meet up again with Rachana. The reminders of our last visit are all around; the whirring fan, the smooth concrete room, the nearby shouts of laughter – but there is something different in the air. Rachana comes in and sits down across from us. This time she carries herself differently, with a newfound confidence that is noticeable as she enters the room.
Rachana smiles widely, causing her eyes to crease, as she tells us that she was successful in her interview last year and was accepted into IThinkAsia’s training classes. Here, Rachana fine-tuned her skills by self-training on the computer program that IThinkAsia uses to create animations. For one whole year, Rachana displayed inspirational discipline and drive as she trained herself, alongside staff, who would oversee and offer their assistance whenever Rachana needed it. “The managers understand about my ability and how I am doing,” she tells us but the work has gone up a level since then, “Before it was easier because it was training, but now I am working. So in training, when I had any questions the teacher could help me but now it’s different because I’m working and it’s difficult because I don’t know English well.”
Despite the hurdles, Rachana hasn’t been hindered in her journey. Today, she is employed by IThinkAsia and works on some of their projects. “I love working at IThinkAsia,” she tells us. “At first I was just drawing, but now they send me pictures and I do the coloring on the computer”. The positive change in this inspiring young woman’s demeanor is clear to see, as her hard work and determination have shaped her and will continue to guide her into the bright future ahead.
Rachana continued living at Justice Home until June when she moved into an apartment of her own. She has set her eyes on evolving her drawing skills on the computer and one day hopes to be an independent artist. “I am very proud that I can learn this new experience. Before I just drew on paper but now I can draw on the computer and understand a whole different process. I never knew if I could do it… but now I know that I can!”
At Destiny Rescue, vocational training is a fundamental tool we use in the restoration and reintegration of the girls in our care. For us, vocational training is much more than learning mediocre skills. By listening to the girls and hearing what ignites their passions, we try to open as many doors as we can for them so that they can make the most of each opportunity they have in their communities. We want to see each one of our girls become self-sufficient and equipped to make a good living for themselves in something they are truly passionate about.
This approach to holistic care is at the core of our mission. In order to provide this kind of intentional and individualized assistance, we need an army of supporters who are with us for the long game. Becoming a Rescue Partner is your chance to join us and make the biggest impact in a lasting way. Your continued support will be the reason another amazing girl is able to be free and pursue her dreams!