This I Believe: Help the People in the Worst Situation Now.
I’m 37 with a master’s degree, and I just found my real career. I may get a cape. Had someone mentioned this as a career possibility in kindergarten, perhaps I wouldn’t have spent the last 30 some years wondering what the heck I am doing on this planet. I’m going to liberate modern day slaves.
To do that, I should talk with you, about the most important, tiniest little screwed up ones we should get. Little girls in Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam—5 and 6 year olds, although they’ve been as young as 13 months old—are raped and sewn back together, repeatedly. The men who do this believe that sex with a virgin cures AIDS—the men are trying to cure themselves.
I don’t mean to put a dint into anyone’s day, but I think that’s pretty much the bottom of the barrel, as far as humanity goes. It’s terrible to be poor, to have cancer, to lose a job, a spouse, a child. But to be a five year old who has no idea that the world is round and that life has ever or will ever be different from beatings, rapes, starvation and constant surgery in back alleys with dirty needles and no anesthetic?
The amazing thing is that if people can help her, she will grow up to help others.
But we’re all the way over here, you might say. Where are the police, you say. Where are the governments?
Well, this isn’t exactly politically correct, but many people in these countries have suffered terrible losses in the violence of the 1960s and 70s. And many of them are a little crazy. Anger and rape have gone hand in hand with all wars.
But it’s going to be okay, because enter the powerhouses! Freetheslaves.Net, Anti-Slavery International, the Somaly Mam foundation with its frontline organization AFESIP, which rescues and rehabilitates sex slaves in SE Asia—Somaly Mam has freed and helped 4,000 girls so far. The girls gain education, health, independence, and the love of family, many of them become rescuers themselves.
AFESIP has also had prevention efforts—talks with men about women, sex, and AIDS. Men have cried openly at the meetings, and have changed their whole lives.
Somaly is a glamorous, brilliant former slave, from Cambodia; she is recognized as a world leader in the fight against child sex trafficking. To be a member of her team is $2 a month—the price of a gourmet muffin, a not too gourmet coffee drink. Susan Sarandon, Daryl Hannah and the Queen of Spain are all helping her out. So we’ve got some lovely ladies on our side, and every pissed off man in SE Asia on theirs.
AFESIP and other organizations have kicked the snot of many small brothels, but the big ones—like the six-story high Chai Hour II in Cambodia, can seem impenetrable. When Somaly tried to raid them, they kidnapped her daughter and broke down the walls of one of her shelters, stealing back 85 girls.
Go to her website. Fight child sex slavery, talk about it, spread the word that these girls need help—the world will pay you back.