Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Somaly Mam Foundation 2.0

Somaly Mam Foundation 2.0

Oscar-winner Susan Sarandon and author and founder of the Somaly Mam Foundation, Somaly Mam
Oscar-winner Susan Sarandon and author and founder of the Somaly Mam Foundation, Somaly Mam, speak on stage at the celebration of The Visionaries at New York’s Alice Tully Hall in 2012. AFP

Somaly Mam Foundation 2.0

Disgraced anti-trafficking advocate Somaly Mam is back on the fundraising bandwagon following legal investigations into her credibility, months of negative publicity and a forced resignation from her own foundation.

In an email to her supporters this week, Mam sought donations to open a new US-based organisation next month called The New Somaly Mam Foundation: Voices of Change, Reuters reported yesterday.

The new organisation will combine with Agir Pour Les Femmes en Situation Precaire (Afesip), a local anti-trafficking NGO founded by Mam that lost most of its funding after the first Somaly Mam Foundation abruptly withdrew support in July.

The foundation edged Mam out after years of allegations that Mam fabricated her back-story and coached girls into telling false accounts of being trafficked culminated in a Newsweek article in May. The multimillion-dollar foundation was itself shuttered in October without accounting for outstanding donations.

“The future plan is to merge AFESIP Cambodia and the USA based organization as one,” wrote Stephanie Lorenzo, CEO of Project Futures, which helps fund Afesip, in a blog post earlier this month.

Afesip staff yesterday confirmed the merger, but said the organisations were not yet officially combined, before declining to provide further information. Lorenzo revealed in her post however, that as a result of fallout from the Newsweek story, half the local Afesip staff lost their jobs and one of the three Afesip shelters will have to close by the end of this year.

The website of Mam’s new fund says the nonprofit organisation “in formation” will not focus on rescuing women and girls, but instead work on post-rescue care and education.

While scant on details of how and when the new organisation will work, the site contains numerous defences of Mam, including letters from a former volunteer and a shelter resident who accuses the detractors of being inhuman and “like pimps and traffickers”.

Other local anti-trafficking NGOs yesterday said they would welcome Mam’s new fund.

“It would be a good thing if she started a new organisation,” said Chan Saron, a project manager at NGO Chabdai. “It was a personal problem and not about the good work of the NGO.”

MOST VIEWED

  • PM responds to Rainsy ticket claims

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday expressed frustration over claims by Sam Rainsy that he had altered Rainsy’s ticket with Thai Airways to prevent him boarding his November 7 flight to Thailand, from where he had claimed he would enter Cambodia. Hun Sen made the

  • Phnom Penh International Airport wins award as passenger traffic soars

    The Phnom Penh International Airport has been awarded Best Asia Pacific Regional Airport 2019 for its sustained high growth in passenger traffic in recent years. The award was presented by the Capa Centre for Aviation (Capa) – a world-leading and trusted organisation that provides market intelligence to

  • PM urges ‘democracies’ to learn from horrors Cambodia faced

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday chided countries that he said declared themselves a democracy while supporting a military coup that eventually gave birth to the Khmer Rouge regime. Speaking during the 2nd Asia-Pacific Summit at the Peace Palace, Hun Sen said without naming those

  • Princess Buppha Devi passes away aged 77

    Princess Norodom Buppha Devi, who was famous for her skills and key roles behind the Kingdom’s Royal Ballet, passed away on Monday from unspecified illness at a hospital in the Thai capital Bangkok, according to the official Facebook page of King Norodom Sihamoni. “May

  • PM: Request for release of plotters not due to pressure

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Saturday said his request to have the supporters of former opposition leader Sam Rainsy and his “coup plot” released on bail was not made under international pressure. Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of 34 roads in Preah Sihanouk

  • Ministry deplores RFA report on EBA

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation on Friday deplored as fake news a Radio Free Asia (RFA) report that it had received a copy of the European Commission’s assessment on the human rights situation in Cambodia as part of the Everything But