Somaly Mam has an incredible story of survival from the industry of human trafficking. She was born to a small tribal family in Cambodia where she grew up in extreme poverty.  At a very young age, Somaly was sold into the sex slave industry and was forced to work at a brothel for many years. She was often beaten and raped by her captors and the men who paid to have sex with her. She even witnessed her best friend murdered in the brothel.

Somaly realized that she must do something to escape this life that she was trapped in and that she must do something to help others who are in the industry involuntarily. She felt that she could no longer keep her silence. In heroic fashion, Somaly escaped her captors and left the country. She was able to build a new life abroad and start the healing process.

In itself, that is quite a story. But what makes Somaly so amazing and inspirational is that she decided that she would never forget those women and children she left behind in the brothel. So, she returned to Southeast Asia and started to work on helping others escape this horrific life. In addition to helping them one on one, she built shelters and programs around the country to help heal victims and empower survivors to help even more victims. In 1996, she established an NGO called AFESIP, which offers a holistic approach to helping victims not only escape, but attain the emotional and economic strength to start a new life.  

 In 2007, Somaly established the Somaly Mam Foundation, which raises money and awareness on the human trafficking issue. It provides a means for trafficking victims to let their voices be heard around the world. The NGO and Foundation have helped over 7,000 trafficking victims to date. Somaly has been named on of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People f 2009 and she was the recipient of the Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation. 

To escape the life of a human trafficking victim truly makes Somaly blessed to survive. But to go back and risk everything to help others escape these horrors shows what courage and determination really exist inside this remarkable woman.  Asked why she continues to do it, Somaly says: "I don't want to go without leaving a trace." To learn more about her foundation, go to: www.somaly.org.

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