The Somaly Mam Foundation (SMF) a nonprofit charity organization dedicated to ending modern day slavery in North America and around the world, held the 2011 Somaly Mam Foundation East Coast Gala at Espace in New York on Thursday, October 20, 2011 to benefit and support its foundation. SMF was co-founded by Cambodian sex trafficking survivor and author Somaly Mam. Prominent philanthropists and celebrities came together to dine for this important cause and to honor The Body Shop Americas; Russell Simmons, Rush Comunications, Inc.; and Melanne Verveer, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues.
Unfortunately, many Americans are not aware that slavery still exists worldwide, including in the United States. It is hard to believe, but over 1.2 million women and children are sold into slavery every year, many of whom end up in servitude in America. Human trafficking is a global crisis and Free the Slaves estimates that there are currently 27 million people toiling as modern day slaves around the globe.
After the cocktail reception, the master of ceremonies Bill Livermore introduced Cambodian Royalty Her Excellency Hun Kimlen and her two daughters who spoke on her behalf about the ongoing efforts to combat human trafficking in Cambodia. Somaly Mam and Mr. Livermore then honored U.S. State Department Ambassador-At-Large for Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer for her lobbying efforts to combat human trafficking in the U.S. This was followed by a touching firsthand account of two sex trafficking survivors, Chea Lingya and Hok Sokleang, and how the SMF helped rescue, rehabilitate, and integrate them back into society. As part of the ongoing fundraising efforts to support the work being done in Southeast Asia, the pre-dinner Humanitarian “Fund-A-Need” charity auction garnered over $91,000 for the Somaly Mam Foundation.
After the auction, VIP attendees including women of the royal family of Cambodia, Susan Sarandon, Ron Livingston, Padma Lakshmi, AnnaLynne McCord, Russell Simmons, and Petra Nemcova enjoyed a gourmet dinner of brisket, fingerling potatoes, and mixed seasonal vegetables. While awaiting a luxe trio of flavored crème brûlée, guests were entertained by a live performance from pianist Chloe Flower who played her new hit single “Revolution”. The talented artist expertly blends classical piano with pop to create a sound
that is unique and inspiring. The proceeds from her new iTunes album will benefit the Somaly Mam Foundation.
AnnaLynne McCord and Somaly Mam presented the Voices of Change award to Philip Kowalczyk, President of The Body Shop Americas, for their corporate initiative to end sex trafficking with their Stop Sex Trafficking of Children and Young People campaign. Thanks to a collaborative effort between The Body Shop and ECPAT (Ending Child Prostitution and Trafficking) a landmark 7-million signature-endorced petition to end human trafficking was presented to the UN Human Rights Council calling for specific legislative changes around the globe –changes which have now been implemented by a number of member states. Join hands with The Body Shop and ECPAT and support their campaign to stop sex trafficking of children and young people. The proceeds from every Soft Hands Kind Heart Hand Cream sold are donated to their campaign partner ECPAT, a global network of charities who are working to stop the trafficking and sexual exploitation of children and young people around the world. The campaign aims to raise awareness of the scale of the issue, raise funding for vulnerable children and young people, and inspire those with decision-making power to effect change. Soft Hands Kind Heart Hand Cream is available now at The Body Shop, in-stores and online. In the US, 100% of the net proceeds from each Soft Hands Kind Heart Hand Cream are donated to their global campaign partner ECPAT. For more information and to purchase, please click here. The Body Shop Stop Sex Trafficking Bag for Life is also available for purchase at The Body Shop in-stores and online with 100% of the net proceeds going to the Somaly Mam Foundation. For more information and to purchase, please click here.
Gleaming model and SMF Global Advisory Board member Petra Nemcova then honored Rush Communications’ founder and mogul Russell Simmons for his anti-trafficking philanthropic work. As the UN Goodwill Ambassador for the Permanent Memorial to Honor the Victims of Slavery and The North-Atlantic Slave Trade he has raised awareness, especially among urban youths, about the legacy and history of slavery, as well as issues in modern day slavery.
Overall, the extraordinarily impressive evening was a success. Guests left feeling like their donations were going to a worthy cause while they received gift bags from The Body Shop with their popular seasonal and limited edition Spiced Pumpkin Bath and Shower Gel. For more information and to donate, please visit www.somaly.org.