Peru State College
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News Release

Human trafficking activist Somaly Mam to speak at Peru State next Monday, Oct. 22

Free and open to the public


(Peru, Neb.) A worldwide leader at the forefront of the anti-trafficking movement, Somaly Mam will speak at Peru State College (PSC) at 7 p.m. next Monday, Oct. 22 in the College Theatre as part of the institution’s Distinguished Speaker Series.

Mam’s presentation, The Lost Road of Innocence,retells her life story. Born to a tribal minority family in the Mondulkiri province of Cambodia, Somaly Mam began life in extreme poverty as part of a severely marginalized ethnic group. Her family often resorted to desperate means to survive. This confluence of dire circumstances led to Mam being sold into sexual slavery by a man who posed as her grandfather. To this day, due to the passing of time and the unreliability of a wounded memory, she does not know who this man was to her.

Forced to work in a brothel alongside other children, Mam was brutally tortured and raped on a daily basis. One night she was made to watch as her best friend was viciously murdered. Fearing the same fate, Mam escaped her captors and set about building a new life. She vowed never to forget those left behind and has since dedicated her life to saving victims and empowering survivors.

In 1996, Mam established a Cambodian non-governmental organization called AFESIP (Agir Pour les Femmes en Situation Precaire). Under her leadership, AFESIP employs a holistic approach to ensure that victims not only escape their plight, but that they also have the emotional and economic strength to face the future with hope. With the launch of the Somaly Mam Foundation in 2007, she has established a funding vehicle to support anti-trafficking organizations and to provide victims and survivors with a platform from which their voices can be heard around the world. She is the author of The Road of Lost Innocence: The True Story of a Cambodian Heroine.

For her efforts, Mam was honored as one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2009 and was featured as a CNN Hero. She is the recipient of the Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation, The World’s Children’s Prize for the Rights of the Child (WCPRC) and Glamour Magazine’s 2006 Woman of the Year Award. She has also won accolades from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Peru State established the Distinguished Speaker Series in fall 2010 as part of the college’s commitment to student engagement and success. The intent of the Series is to bring diverse, nationally and internationally recognized speakers to southeast Nebraska to enrich the educational experience of students while also providing surrounding communities opportunities to engage in interesting and relevant topics.

Speakers are encouraged to connect with the community in a variety of ways during their visits through classroom discussions, guest lectures, meet and greet receptions, and a keynote address. Previous guests include former skinhead Frank Meeink, civil rights leader and Little Rock Nine member Minnijean Brown-Trickey, Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson Arun Gandhi, Bawa (Cameroon, Africa) Health Initiative co-founded Dr. Dennis Richardson, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author Sonia Nazario, and consumer advocate and former Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader. All events are open to the public and free of charge.

For more information, visit or contact Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs Michaela Willis at 402-872-2224 or