Somaly was not Somaly Mam’s first name. What other names can she remember having? Why does she like and keep the name Somaly? Why does she think it fits her? Page 1. How did she get her second or ‘family ‘ name Mam? Page 16-29. How does the name Mam reflect the one bright spot of kindness, care, and learning in her early life? How did this early bright spot continue to be important throughout Somaly’s life, even today?
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The Road of Lost Innocence is a must-read fascinating chef-d’oeuvre by Somaly Mam. As it reveals, Somaly Mam was not the author’s only name. She had other names that resulted from her temporary choices. As a small child, she had the name ‘Ya’ followed by ‘Non’, as she continued to grow. Additionally, she secured the name ‘Aya’ when the old man rescued her from the forest. The name ‘Mam’, given to her by a kind man, meant, “The necklace of flowers lost in a virgin forest” (Mam 1).
Somaly likes and keeps her name because she feels it matches her true self. The name Mam reflects the one bright spot of care, kindness, and learning in her early life, as it points out or rather spots the things that she lacked as a young child. The bright spot is still relevant to her even today as she continues with her works of charity in bringing light to the dark lives of thousands of children.
Somaly Mam was born into a hill tribe called Phnong by the Khmers and Chams. How did she wind up with a Cham Muslim grandfather? What brought ber out of the hills at about age nine or ten to live with low land Khmers and Chams? What shocking differences did Somaly notice between the way Khmer and also Cham Cambodians treated their children and the way her Phnong people treated children?
Somaly Mam, born in a hillside tribe of Phnong, ended up with a Cham Muslim man because Taman, the man who was taking care of her, as she was an orphan, said that he came from the same place as her biological father. The Cham muslin man, addressed as ‘grandfather’, was a show of respect because he was elderly. Somaly Mam went with the Cham Muslim grandfather to the lowland Khmers and Chams to find her paternal relatives.
Tamam sold her though he cheated her that he would help her locate her relatives and live with them. The Phong people are kind to their children unlike the Khamer and Cham Cambodians. The Phong lived in the remote hillside where they treated their children gently. She says, “The Phong people are loyal to their children—not like the Khamer” (Mam 6-7). The Khmers and Chams, on the other hand, were brutal and abusive to their children. They mistreated their children and sold their children to prostitution and slavery.
Why did Somaly grow to hate her adoptive grandfather? How did the first bad sign show upright as they were in transit out of the hills? How did this ‘grandfather’ make money off of Somaly’s labor even before selling her sexually? Although she dreamed of killing him because of his cruelty, she never really opposed him. Why? When she finally leams of his death, how does she feel? Page 61-62 Was she any freer as a result of his death?
Mam grows to hate her adoptive grandfather because he was so abusive to her. He beats, starves, and even overworks her. To cover his gambling debt, he sells her to a Chinese merchant. The first sign that showed Somaly the wickedness of her grandfather was when he struck her after she was afraid of climbing on to the logging truck. He then proceeded to pull her into the truck. To earn money, the grandfather made her work for other families.
She cooked, washed, and did other backbreaking jobs to earn money for him. She never opposed the grandfather because he was frightening and brutal. She feared that he would harm her if she opposed him. She felt indifferent to the death of the grandfather. She was not even freer in the event of his death. The reason behind this is that the woman she had been sold to was in control of her. She had every reason to continue the mistreatment.
What organization did Somaly and Pierre found? How did it gradually gain support? What kind of celebrity has Somaly become? How many people have been helped by her organization? How has it grown internationally?
Somaly and her husband Pierre found a charitable organization to fight sex slavery and human trafficking and other forms of modern-day slavery. They started in their apartment. They would raid brothels and rescue desperate girls. Slowly, it gained international support for the exemplary work they were doing. She received much recognition and funding for her charity work. The small organization grew over the years until she founded the Somaly Mam Foundation, which grew from the small foundation.
She has helped about four thousand women from sexual slavery, human trafficking, and other forms of degrading vices. She provides them with shelter and hope of a new life. She has received a dozen awards, the most notable being the ‘glamour woman of the year 2006’. She also appears in the list of the 100 most influential people in the world.
Mam, Somaly. The road of lost innocence. New York: Spiegel and Grau, 2008. Print.