I am very excited to introduce you all to Sarah Murphy, a Melbourne based Marketing Manager who also volunteers for PROJECT FUTURES. She provides PR and marketing assistance to the organisation, who raise funds to rescue and rehabilitate victims of child sex trafficking. Sarah has compiled a Guest Blog detailing her role as a volunteer, what the organisation is all about and how you can get involved.
Deciding to become a volunteer was a tough one… I worried that I didn’t have enough time available, or that it would all become too much with my already heavy workload. I hate to let anyone down. But I am so proud to have taken that leap of faith as I am so passionate about the work I am doing for PROJECT FUTURES and to be such a small part of the work they do.
How did I get started?
It all began with the book, The Road of Lost Innocence, by Somaly Mam. I simply couldn’t put it down. Her story was so powerful and I realised that if she could dedicate her life to saving victims of sexual trafficking, at great danger to herself and her family, that I could find a few hours a week to promote her work. A quick Google led to me finding out that Somaly is supported in Australia by PROJECT FUTURES.
Who is Somaly Mam?
Born to a tribal minority in Cambodia, Somaly Mam began life in extreme poverty. With limited options, her family often resorted to desperate means to survive. This led to Somaly being sold into sexual slavery by a man who posed as her grandfather.
Somaly was forced to work in a brothel along with other women and children for many years, and was brutally tortured and raped. One night, she was made to watch as her best friend was viciously murdered. Deciding then that she would no longer “keep her silence,” Somaly escaped her captors and began to build a new life abroad.
She vowed never to forget those she left behind, and returned to Southeast Asia. She has dedicated her life’s work to saving victims, building shelters and programs for healing and empowering survivors to become agents of change. In 1996, Somaly established a Cambodian non-governmental organisation called AFESIP, who ensure victims not only escape their plight, but have the emotional and economic strength to face the future with hope. With the launch of the Somaly Mam Foundation in 2007, Somaly has established a funding vehicle to support anti-trafficking organisations and to provide victims and survivors with a platform from which their voices can be heard around the world. Somaly estimates that she and her team have assisted over 7,000 victims to date.
Who are PROJECT FUTURES?
PROJECT FUTURES is a Sydney based, non-profit organisation, run by a network of young professionals. We raise awareness and funds for programs dedicated to combating human trafficking and sexual exploitation in Australia and South-East Asia. The money raised contributes to the funding of rescue, recovery, education and reintegration of victims, as well as advocacy for the cause. We are in partnership with The Somaly Mam Foundation and to date have raised over $400,000 for their work in Cambodia.
PROJECT FUTURES Melbourne
Although based in Sydney, there is a core team of Melbourne supporters. As a result, we are launching PROJECT FUTURES Melbourne on Friday 16 November and Somaly Mam will be our special guest. Those that come along will have the chance to hear from Somaly as well as enjoy a range of live music and entertainment.
How can I get involved?
If you aren’t based in Melbourne, or can’t make the event, there are still a thousand ways to get involved!
We also hold PF Cycle Challenges – a short 545km ride through Vietnam and Cambodia in support of PROJECT FUTURES!
But the great thing about PROJECT FUTURES is you can get involved in however you feel comfortable. We encourage supporters to hold their own DIY events and over the years have seen everything from movie and trivia nights to gala black tie events. You can even become a PROJECT FUTURES blogger! Or, just sign up to our newsletter, like us on Facebook and see the work that we do.