In honor of International Women’s Day, I want to take a moment to talk about my own personal hero, human rights advocate Somaly Mam. At a very young age, Mam was sold into child sex slavery and was forced to endure mental and physical torture at the hands of money hungry, monstrous people. She was able to escape the oppression as well as find a new home in safety abroad. Mam in 1996, wanting to provide safety and protection for other little girls living the same gruesome trafficking practices as she had once faced, began AFESIP (Agir Pour les Femmes en Situation Precaire) a non-profit organization in her home country of Cambodia and later the Somaly Mam Foundation in 2007.

I first heard of Somaly Mam, her work and the issue that caused it during the “CNN Heroes” special back in 2009. Through the years the issue continued to catch my attention; I couldn’t believe that there were such devastating acts being performed on children, on girls my age and that the rate of trafficking was only growing in number. I soon realized that I didn’t want to just read and feel sorry for these children; I wanted to be a part of the solution. Mam’s story developed into an inspiration of mine; her dedication to fight the oppression faced by women everywhere became my personal instigator to go out into the world and do something that matters.

Thank you Somaly Mam, for being my hero and the hero of little girls all around the world.