The fact that Somaly survived and escaped horrendous abuse sold into sexual slavery as a child in Cambodia makes her story unique; but what makes her truly extraordinary is that she went back to the very communities where she was sold in order to confront the system that continues to victimize women every day. She created a nonprofit organization called AFESIP (Agir pour les Femmes en Situation Précaire, or Acting for Women in Distressing Circumstances) that works with local law enforcement across Southeast Asia to raid brothels and reintegrate the trafficked women into society. The Somaly Mam Foundation, AFESIP’s partner in the United States, has brought Somaly to the forefront of the fight against international sex slavery. For her tireless efforts Somaly has been honored as one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People of 2009, a CNN Hero, and a Glamour 2006 Woman of the Year Award Winner.
Q: What do you think is the key to happiness?
A: “Forgiveness” by looks at the world with positive thing and give hope to people.
Q: What or who has given you the strength to persevere throughout the darkest moments of your life?
A: Victims. I am so happy that they can go to school and some of my little survivors are able to enjoy their childhood life. Example, Sreymach, she has been raped and got HIVs/ AIDs since she was 7 years but she is so strong and she is at secondary school right now.
Q: I love the quote “the bigger the vision, the smaller the first step”. Right now, what is the big vision you have for your career?
A: My dream is to have one world without violence, war, trafficking and slavery.
Q: Who is a leader that you have great respect for and why?
A: Queen Sofia, Queen of Spain, she comes to my life the first one and Susan Sarandon. They granted me “Love and Hope” then I start to give love to others. They are like my mother and sister.
Q: Please share with us the story of how your professional journey began and has brought you to where you are today
A: The short answer is to read my book: The Road of Lost Innocence. My life experience brought me here today. We have been through a bad life that does not mean we are fail but we have to learn from it. When I touch the victims’ hands, see their eyes and look at their smile, I feel hope and have enough energy to stand up for them. I am so lucky to have chosen family around the world. Without supporting from donors and people around me I could not do anything. Only thing I can do is my life. Life is life; it will be die if it is going to die. I am happy to die for good cause. I gain a lot of love from my girls; this is like my charger. Like we can say, if you want to get love you have to learn how to give love.
Q: What simple things in life today bring you joy?
A: My life is still the same simple life of Somaly. Hugging and kissing from my girls is the most joyful. This is not expensive but so much value because that is real and come from honest heart of victims and survivors.
Q: What would your advice be to others who have also experienced life-altering struggles? How do they turn horrific experiences into something positive instead of allowing it to take the best of them?
A: Forgiveness and try to put itself to be simple and easy. You have to recognize your life experiences and learn from it to make different. You are suffering today but you do not know how many behind you. Do not scare to help one person because one can help many others.
Q: What are the top 3 things that you do to stay healthy?
A: 1). Laughing
2). Loving without condition/you have know what is enough in your life
3). Think positively
Q: What are the most significant relationships in your life?
A: “Victims and Survivors,” my life is meaningful to use it for good cause and help others.
Q: If you’ve written a book, please share with us more about it and what you want readers to mainly gain from reading it.
A: I want readers to know what is reality. Life is never end so you have to have hope. I share my bad story but turning to hope and help not to anger because angry is not a solution.