Thursday, January 28, 2010

30 Days of Justice: The Somaly Mam Foundation

3:08 AM
Often when we hear about sex slavery, it's a concept. It's a statistic. Then one day, a real live person comes along, and makes it personal. That's what happened to me with Somaly Mam. I had been reading anything I could get my hands on about human trafficking, and I ran across a book called The Road of Lost Innocence. It was written by a former Cambodian child prostitute who now ran her own non-profit to rescue girls caught in that lifestyle. Her story was detailed, tragic, and heartbreaking. It really put a face on this injustice for me. Forced to work in a brothel along with other children, Somaly was brutally tortured and raped on a daily basis. One night, she was made to watch as her best friend was viciously murdered. Fearing she would meet that same fate, Somaly heroically escaped her captors and set about building a new life for herself. She vowed never to forget those left behind and has since dedicated her life to saving victims and empowering survivors.

In 1996, Somaly established a Cambodian non-governmental organization called AFESIP (Agir Pour les Femmes en Situation Precaire). Under Somaly's leadership, AFESIP employs a holistic approach that ensures victims not only escape their plight, but have the emotional and economic strength to face the future with hope. With the launch of The Somaly Mam Foundation in 2007, Somaly has established a funding vehicle to support anti-trafficking organizations and to provide victims and survivors with a platform from which their voices can be heard around the world. The foundation supports rescue, shelter and rehabilitation programs across South East Asia, where the trafficking of women and girls, some as young as five, is a widespread practice. The Somaly Mam Foundation also runs global awareness and advocacy campaigns that shed light on the crime of sexual slavery and focus on getting the public and governments involved in the fight to abolish modern day slavery.

I can't even begin to explain how moved I was by Somaly Mam's story. It was through her book that my heart began to burden for Cambodia. I had only known of the country's war torn history and violent revolutions that eliminated an entire generation. I had no idea that they were suffering from this tragedy as well. Cambodia filled my heart and my head, and I began looking to ways I could get. How I could do something.

“Now that I have seen, I am responsible. Faith without deeds is dead. Now that I have held you in my own arms, I cannot let go.” - Brooke Fraser, Albertine.

About the author

Joy Muldoon is a full-time missionary and part-time blogger. Read about her travels, adventures, and missions here!


Dana Higgins said...

When you gave me this book to read I had no idea that it would impact me as much as it did. I am so much more aware about human trafficking and the growing problem it is in the world. Somaly Mam has a story of betrayal, dedication, and perseverance. I was amazed after reading her book and I wish I could have gone to her seminar at UCF AFTER reading the book, it would have meant so much more. Thank you for sharing the book with me and this blog about her :)

Joy Engdahl said...

i'm so glad you were able to read her story and experience seeing her live! i'm glad it has changed you :) thanks for all your love and support!!