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Somaly Mam Foundation
Hearts and Hands Gala
October 26, 2010

Written by Wendy R. Williams
Photo Credit:
Patrick McMullen

Opposite Photo:
Russell Simmons and Somaly Mam

Somaly Mam's Hearts and Hands Foundation is dedicated to helping former Cambodian sex slaves - girls who have been forced into prostitution, sometimes being sold by their own families at ages as young as five.

Somaly Mam is a former child sex worker who has had the courage to turn her personal horror into a mission. She has dedicated her life to saving the victims of sex trafficking, creating homes where these victimized young girls's lives can be rehabilitated and telling her story to any and all who will listen.

And she has been heard. On October 26, 2010, the Foundation hosted its annual Gala at Capitale. The attendees were treated to a traditional Cambodian Lotus dance performed by a troupe of Somaly's girls. Some of the girls spoke to the guests, one beautiful young girl breaking hearts when she said, "I was sold by my sister."

Somaly Mam and Susan Sarandon

Then actress and Somaly friend Susan Sarandon introduced the 2010 honoree, Andy Prozes, the Chief Executive Officer of Lexisnexis Group. Mr. Prozes has tirelessly supported the Foundation ever since he met Somaly Mam several years ago in Singapore. Prozes decided to help and he certainly has. I was seated with some of the Foundation's employees and they told me how grateful they were for Mr. Prozes's support. He is even supplying office space for the Foundation.

After dinner, Amy Papola conducted an auction of the many glamorous and fun gifts. So far the ticket sales and auction items have raised over a half million dollars for the foundation.

Singer John Wesley Harding performed a medley of songs for the guests.

Somaly Mam, Cambodian Performer, Lauren Bush and Ashley Bush

The NYC Gala Co-Chairs are: Roland Berger, Lauren Bush, John Kluge, David Lauren, Petra Nemcova, Laura Heery Prozes, Robert Rigby-Hall, Susan Sarandon, and Joan F. Tobin.

NYC Gala Committee includes: Patrick Alcindor, Maria Bello, Peter Davis, Sally Field, Bryce Gruber, Francesca Hammerstein, Josie Hines, Henry Z. Horbaczewski, Alice Kandell, Michael Martin, Moises de la Renta, Jane Seymour, Ally Sheedy, Tia Walker, Alexa Winner, Arden Wohl, and Ulla Van Zeller.

Guests included: Ashley Bush, designer Cathy Hardwick, John Kluge, David Lauren, actress and model Petra Nemcova, actress Ally Sheedy, hip-hop mogul and entrepreneur Russell Siimmons, Foundation president Bill Livemore, designer Alexander Berardi, Ian Tobin, Anne Watkins, Alexa Winner, Buck Fletcher, Lorrie Britt, Bianca Mead, Janelle Korcheck, Tia Walker, David Victor Rose, designer Gemma Kahng, Deborah Zee, Michael Angelo, Liam McMullan, Aesha Waks, Eric Lerner, Michael Lumpa, Jarred Greenberg, Sylvie Chantecaille, Edward Lee Cave, and Bart Quillen.

(Scroll down for party pictures),

Here is some information about Somaly Mam from the press release from Jonathan Marder + Associates: "About Somaly Mam: born into a tribal minority family in the Mondulkiri province of Cambodia, her life began in extreme poverty. A man who posed as her grandfather sold Somaly into sexual slavery. To this day, due to the passing of time and the unreliability of a wounded memory, Somaly still does not know who this man was to her. Not sure of her birthday she believes she was around twelve years old. Forced to work in a brothel along with other children, Somaly was brutally tortured and raped everyday. One night, she was made to watch as her best friend was viciously murdered. Fearing she would meet that same fate, Somaly escaped. She vowed never to forget those who she left behind and dedicated her life to saving victims and empowering survivors.

In 1996, Somaly established a Cambodian non-governmental organization called AFESIP (Agir Pour les Femmes en Situation Precaire). Under Somaly's leadership, AFESIP employs a holistic approach that ensures victims not only escape their plight but they have the emotional and economic strength to face the future with hope. With the launch of The Somaly Mam Foundation in 2007, Somaly has established a funding vehicle to support anti-trafficking organizations and to provide victims and survivors with a platform from which their voices can be heard around the world.

Universally recognized as a visionary for her courage, dignity, ingenuity, and resilience, Somaly was honored as one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People of 2009 and was featured as a CNN Hero. She has many awards over the last decade: The Roland Berger Human Dignity Award, the Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation (which was given by Queen Sofia of Spain), and The World's Children's Prize for the Rights of the Child (WCPRC), Glamour magazine's 2006 Woman of the Year Award, and has won accolades from the US Department of Homeland Security."


Lauren and Ashley Bush with Combodian Performers Susan Sarandon

Petra Nemacova

Ally Sheedy, Somaly Mam and Susan Sarandon






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