Tuesday, January 22, 2013

My Evening With Somaly Mam

Wow.  What an amazing night. 

When I offered to host a Dinner by Lany supperclub event for Somaly Mam and her foundation, I had no idea that it was going to be such an extraordinary, surprisingly informal, lovely, unforgettable, HANDS ON, and empowering event.  Before meeting the highly celebrated Cambodian activist, I was a bit nervous. For one, her inspirational story and strength of mythological proportions was something that I've always greatly admired. Secondly, I knew that her home was in Phnom Penh and that she probably had her own repertoire of favorite Cambodian dishes.  

Luckily, all of my "first date" jitters instantaneously melted away as soon as Somaly walked through the door.  Immediately after she took off her coat, she made a beeline straight to the kitchen. 

"Hi, Lany! How can I help?"

Taken aback by the glamour that is Somaly Mam, I had to reassess the situation. Her eagerness to help was definitely not expected. 

"No, no, it's okay! Have a seat and I'll bring out the first course..." I managed to stammer. 

"Eh? First course? What about Prahok. I know you have some in the fridge." 

It was then that all my nervousness began to vanish. Yes, Somaly has been awarded with several prestigious accolades for her work to end sex slavery across the globe and was considered to be one of the most influential people by TIME magazine. But, at this particular moment, I was comforted by the one thing that we had in common.  We both shared a love for prahok, food of Cambodia, food of our family, food from home.  

"I am happiest in the kitchen."

"No apron needed, I fry fish all the time at the center!"

The wonderful  Somaly Mam Foundation staff.

The Somaly Mam Foundation

With Somaly, Lilia (IPhone photographer extraordinaire), 
and Somaly's assistant, Sylor

Ending to a perfect evening.

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