Sa Ang to Takeo
We picked-up where left off last night, grateful to be hosted in a local (and active) pagoda in Sa Ang. Upon our arrival late last evening, Sam explained to the pagoda’s head monk that he was running across Cambodia to expose the risks of human trafficking, after which the monk promised to accompany Sam to the river's edge when he embarked on his swim across the Mekong River this morning.
We awoke at dawn amidst the hum of monastic rituals; the night rain had purged the air and for a few splendid morning hours we were dust-free, and the countryside was bathed in ochre-colored light. We set-out early to meet the river that was our current-laden foe mere hours earlier. It was a quite a team that stood on the shores of the muddy Mekong, ready to support Sam’s swim: a scruffy-looking documentary crew, seas of curious onlookers, vans and pick-up trucks waiting in the wings, and a lone monk cloaked in a glorious orange robe, offering his blessing to Sam's journey. Sam dove in and crossed the Mekong, keeping pace with a rustic plank-style barge, emerging on the other side strong and prepared to begin running, biking, and sweating.
For the second part of day, the photography and video teams split from Sam and headed back into Phnom Penh to
learn first-hand about the realities of human trafficking from survivors themselves. Thanks to our friends at the Cause Effect Agency, we were able to connect with some incredible women who are part of the Voices For Change program with the Somamly Mam Foundation and AEFSIP.
As explained on her website, the Somaly Man Foundation is “modeled after Somaly’s life example...[and] Voices For Change is designed to give survivors an opportunity to help themselves by helping others, to have their voices heard in the courts of law and public perception, and to have influence and impact on effectuating change...Each one of these women has lived through horrific conditions, and has emerged as young leaders, for Voices for Change.
“Co-founded by sexual slavery survivor, Somaly Mam, the foundation works to eradicate human trafficking, liberate its victims, and empower survivors so they can create and sustain lives of dignity."
We were honored to have the chance to interview such courageous and strong women. They have lived through unimaginable atrocities and have survived to inform and educate others on the realities of trafficking. These interviews will feature in the forthcoming documentary by Persistent Productions about Sam's cross-Cambodian
journey, articulating why this cause is important and why Sam wants your support to help prevent sex trafficking before it starts.
Donate to support Sam, Sala Bai Hotel & Restaurant School and the fight against human trafficking.
Did you miss our previous posts? Read the first, second, third, fourth and fifth installments of Sam's adventure.
- Meghan Shea