She spoke at an event organized by The Women Like Us Foundation in Indianapolis, telling her personal story of how she escaped from a brothel in Phnom Penh, only to return to the red light district to rescue others. Somaly said that she simply did “what was in front of me,” day by day, helping one victim at a time. Eventually, she gained attention and momentum, and the Somaly Mam Foundation was born.
When asked by an audience member what Americans can do to help the movement in Cambodia, her answer was that we should be happy for all that we have here in America; we should be happy every day. When I spoke with her personally, I told her how I am a survivor of human trafficking, and how I was trafficked to Japan, but that I escaped and now I am happy. I told her I speak to raise awareness about human trafficking. “I think you should come to Cambodia and speak to my girls.” We exchanged contact information and I spoke with her by both phone and email the following day.
I’m determined to raise the funds to travel to Southeast Asia, and once I have a plan, I’ll contact Somaly Mam and begin the process of arranging the trip. I’m visualizing it happening in 2013, and I have a lot of work to do.
A few days ago, I sat on a panel of human trafficking experts at an event organized by student activists at Ball State University (David Letterman’s alma mater) and I shared what Somaly Mam said about doing what is in front of you, each and every day, and I told them how happy I am now, not in spite of, but because of the nightmarish experiences I’ve survived.
Several members of the audience, brave, badass, powerful young women, told me how much I inspired them. One beautiful, kickass, bad-to-the-bone warrior princess told me her riveting story of overcoming trauma and tragedy. “I don’t regret it,” she said of the horror she’d endured as a child, “I don’t regret it, because it’s made me who I am.”
I am so grateful for the opportunity to speak on that panel, and to meet those amazing young women. I gained wisdom and inspiration through their words. Everything you think, say, write, or believe makes a difference. What you do makes a difference, and never let anybody convince you that you are insignificant, powerless, or invisible. You are the sum of all your experiences, so love who you are today, be proud of who you are!
Feel empowered, be empowered, and bolster someone else’s inner strength! Our lives, our love, our passion will prevail, so let’s go forward, storming the gates of resistance, crashing through barriers of disbelief, mustering badassitude, winning joy in life — Carpe diem, mofos!