Namy x Angela
Learning to care sustainably and empowering others to do the same
Migration from Cambodia to Australia saw Namy’s role as a young carer push all of her needs aside as she carried the responsibility of supporting her family in a foreign world. As the pressure, exhaustion and resentment built up, Namy’s world became clouded and she needed to find another way.
Together with artist Angela, Namy shares a message of realistic hope for all the helpers in this powerful stop motion animation about growth and resilience. Reminding us that asking for help is resilience in action and that caring for ourselves is also caring for those around us.
Namy Touch (she/her)
Being a migrant child and navigating life in a new culture, the stress and responsibilities I was too young to handle caused many issues. It was a constant push-and-pull between gratitude that I ‘had it better’ than some and feelings of anger, resentment, and most of all, helplessness.
I think the narrative we’ve been taught – that ‘sacrificing’ oneself to help others is the ultimate act of altruism, is problematic. It groups ‘putting yourself first’ as being selfish and ‘sacrificing yourself for others’ as being compassionate when it’s not that black and white. As a consequence, I never learnt to set boundaries, ask for help, or entrust responsibilities to others.
It also meant that I never learnt to see how helping others at my own expense could actually be a selfish thing to do because it created a sense of co-dependency that took away the opportunity to learn and grow from the people I was trying to help. I came to recognise that helping or caring for someone isn’t about relieving them of responsibilities or negative feelings. It’s about being there to empower them to be independent and help themselves, even if we meet with resistance along the way.
Angela Zheng (she/her)
This expression touches on the themes of hope, growth and resilience. Namy had said, “the sun will always rise at some point”, and this was my initial inspiration. We watch as a seed falls to the ground and how it grows despite adverse weather. The pivotal moment is when a pair of hands, symbolising self-efficacy, reach out to part the skies, allowing hope to shine in. As a result, the seed emerges and it is able to grow into its potential – a young tree, with a bright future ahead. The bird that initially dropped the seed returns, bringing things full circle.
MY VISIBLE MESSAGE
Be proud of how far you’ve come and remember that the sun will always rise.
One thing that always keeps me going is HOPE. Hope that things will pass, and things will get better. With that said, I want to emphasize the importance of realistic hope. Life won’t always be rainbows and sunshine BUT it also won’t always be storm and raincloud. I see a lot of parallels between nature and life, that’s why there are a lot of nature-specific symbolisms in this expression.
One mantra that I keep close to my heart is that some days are dark, and some are cloudy and many times I don’t see the sun but that doesn’t mean it’s not there — the sun will always rise.
Here is a reminder to those who have overcome or are in the process of overcoming obstacles; YOU are capable and resilient, and YOU hold the power to help yourselves and others. Lastly, a message to my fellow carers, taking care of you first is not selfish— remember the trees have to survive and be alive before they can give life.
I was really moved by Namy’s story and how she opened up with such honesty, authenticity and maturity. I could relate a lot to her story. When it became clear that the best way to represent Namy’s story of growth and evolution was going to be by making an animation – something I had never done before – I knew I wanted to draw on my own courage and resilience to honour her courageous, resilient storytelling. Embarking on this unknown creative journey was a risk but inspired by Namy, I welcomed the opportunity to stretch my limits and grow.
Before meeting Angela, I was really worried and hesitant to entrust a stranger with my life story but I knew that Angela was the one after the first introduction we had over Zoom. Angela was compassionate, empathetic, and very flexible. She listened with an open heart and mind. Most of all, I feel acknowledged and validated for my experiences, efforts and feelings.
Somehow Angela could extract my messages from what I felt like were jumbled strings of thoughts and feelings. I’m so grateful that she was able to create such a poignant visualisation of my life story. One thing that stuck with me is when Angela said that my tree is strong and deep-rooted, but it still has roots to grow and it’s true. I’ve learnt so much about myself and those surrounding me through this creative process, but I know that there will always be more things to learn.
Namy Touch (she/her)
Pannamy (Namy) is a proud Khmer-Australian young person with a passion for increasing mental health literacy and advocating for easy and equitable access to services for young carers and the CALD community. Her proudest achievement is empowering her mum to seek help for her mental health challenges, and seeing her learn to love life again. She is currently completing an Honours of Psychology.
Angela Zheng (she/her)
Angela Jia Zheng is a Chinese-Australian arts therapist who works with children and young people who are experiencing homelessness. Angela recharges herself by using her hands to create, whether that be in the form of fermenting, collages, weaving, ceramics, or gardening. Angela comes at the world from a trauma-sensitive, attachment-focused and growth-oriented lens and values living at the edge of her comfort zone.