I learned about Somaly Mam when I was living in Cambodia and working against human trafficking in the region. She is a local name and a local hero. I can’t imagine what a person feels when they live through what she has survived. I often wonder how these children have the strength to persevere. But the fact that Somaly more than survived, that she grew up to be a savior for children in her position with the strength to speak out and stand up, is amazing.
New York Time columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote on Sept 24:
My Thursday column is about one of the bleakest aspects of global poverty, human trafficking, and about somebody who shows that it is not the hopeless cause people sometimes think it is. Somaly Mam runs a foundation in her name to fight trafficking and has just published a powerful autobiography that I highly recommend.
One of the things I’ve seen in development is that Western-designed efforts aren’t always as successful as they should be, while the best approach is to support local people who know the local terrain. That’s why it’s so wonderful to see people like Somaly providing leadership, with Westerners serving as Sherpas.
It is definitely worth it to check out Kristof’s interview with her.
Also, Mongkol, a Cambodian studying in the US, writes about how she made an appearance on the Tyra Banks show. He includes the videos of the show and his own comments.