INTO THE SHADE: A story from Rapha House

Generations ago, there was a Cambodian tradition for young girls that signified their transition into womanhood. They would literally be brought ‘into the shade,’ out of the scorching Cambodian sun for a period of several days or even weeks. During this time they were given skin treatments and all their needs were attended to by relatives while they focused on being taught the ways of womanhood by the elder women. When they ‘came out of the shade’ the community recognized them as a woman of marrying age.

Last year a friend of Rapha House, Wade Landers, approached us with the idea to create a rite of passage event for our girls with the purpose of contributing to the healing process for victims of trauma. The staff put together an event that is both meaningful within Cambodian culture and founded on the truth of God’s Word. We invite you to read about such an event for a young girl named “B”, as told by Jenni, our Associate Director in Siem Reap, Cambodia:

In this photo, the girls waited in eager anticipation to find out who would get to be the first participant and were pleased when it was revealed that ‘B’ would be the first one.  She began with a two day event outside the shelter which included an overnight stay at a guesthouse with a select group of staff

As a group of women we spent the time together sharing life lessons and speaking words of wisdom into ‘B’s life about the woman of God we believe she can become.

Although we had a lot of important things to say, we also enjoyed each other’s fellowship and shared many laughs along the way.

In this photo ‘B’ received as gifts her first traditional Cambodian outfit and a ring which represents her value in God’s eyes.

Before we got dressed up for the ceremony, we rolled up our sleeves and got our hands dirty. We prepared a spot for ‘B’ to plant a tree on our property which will be her responsibility to take care of.  

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The tree was a powerful imagery. When properly nurtured the roots go deep, the trunk grows strong and the branches produce fruit and provide shade that blesses many. We reminded “B” and all the safe house girls that when we are children someone else does the nurturing on our behalf. But as we step into adulthood we take on the responsibility of pouring the right things into our own lives and that’s the message that we wanted ‘B’ to walk away with.

We want to empower ‘B’ and all our girls to stand up and become women who are strong and gentle, wise and humble, and respected by others in the community. We hope they become women who love God and others because they know they are deeply valued and loved by God.  We plan to “enter the shade” with as many girls as we can and integrate this adapted tradition as a regular part of our program.Thank you for standing with us!

By BiakaMay 30th, 2017

To learn more about Rapha House and their efforts to provide aftercare for survivors, prevention for the vulnerable, and awareness for all, visit their website.