BENEFITING: Somaly Mam Foundation
EVENT DATE: Jul 01, 2013
I am a rising junior at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, looking to make a difference in real lives. Sex trafficking is a major human rights issue facing our world today. Cambodia endured unbelievable suffering under the Communist Khmer Rouge regime from 1975-1979. Weakened societal structure and poverty continue to plague rural communities today, setting the backdrop for many young girls who are scammed into false work opportunities in the cities, only to be enslaved in brothels. Others are sold by their own families because they cannot afford to support them. Somaly Mam, a Cambodian woman who escaped sex trafficking, started taking other victims into her home, eventually founding the organization, Acting For Women in Distressing Situations (AFESIP), in 1996. Her three rehabilitation centers have now helped over 7,000 young women, ages 5 to 24, escape sex trafficking and make a new life.
I will be visiting two of the centers for women ages 15 to 24 from July 1-21. These women receive safe refuge, education, and learn a trade so they can integrate back into society. The centers are entirely Cambodian operated, but they have extreme difficulty staffing native psychologists since few have achieved that level of education, and therapy is not common in Cambodian culture. A Hong Kong professor leads the only group of foreigners allowed in the centers to conduct art, dance and drama therapies. The women respond overwhelmingly well to these sessions as an outlet to express the pain of their experiences, finding release and healing. Without these centers, their only option is continued enslavement until they are too old and their captors throw them into the streets or kill them. Their families and communities will not accept them back because they are seen as unclean. Our desire is to show them the love and acceptance they have never experienced and to rebuild trust. The positive effect of the strong bonds formed in the relationships between the volunteers and the women cannot be overstated.
For me, the issue is very personal in ways I would be willing to talk about in a more intimate setting. Helping these women is an amazing chance for me to transform the injustice suffered in my life and theirs into healing and hope, but I need support! The total expense is $2,500, covering supplies for therapy activities, translators, accommodation and airfare. I invite you to participate in this opportunity to reclaim young women from the trauma of sex trafficking. For more information about AFESIP and trafficking in Cambodia, please feel free to contact me, or visit www.afesip.org. I would love to discuss this topic further with you. Thank you for taking the time to read this and considering this opportunity to participate in reclaiming lives stolen by injustice.