A Prostitutes' Princess
A life far less ordinary
Her virginity was sold when she was 11 to pay her owner's debts and Somaly ended up working in brothels servicing numerous men a day.Katy, 26, was on a salary of £30,000 a year when she read the life story of Cambodian woman,Somaly Mam,who was sold as a slave aged just eight. I recently caught up with my wonderful sister Katy quite aptly at a N.S.P.C.C.(National Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Children) fund raising ball in Preston Lancashire.She had flown over from Cambodia very briefly to be a bridesmaid at one of her best friend's London wedding.
Tired from a long journey and a week of many events to attend;Katy was sparkling,she put me in the picture of how things are in reality in her new home in Phnom Pen.
Daily life same but very very different.
"I put on my first blog after my first week that I was just literally hit by the intensity of everything.Nothing is straightforwardl;like even just getting a moto somewhere,you can be five minutes negotiating.And they'll always say they know where you're going.Minutes later,you're like'You clearly don't know where you're going and now I don't know where I am!'
"You can have a map,you can have the address in English and it makes no difference because they don't read and maps haven't really made it over there.A simple journey can turn into you being half an hour late and a bit panicked because you didn't know where you were."
Some experiences have been terrifying,such as a day Katy spent with a friend.She recalls:
"There was a police officer who was very drunk,he'd been drinking for 14hrs and he was shooting at random which isn't unheard of.It riccocheted off a wall and hit the girl next to me.He shot three times and we thought we were being fired at which was slightly terrifying.It doesn't happen all the time but you hear enough stories,a few people have had their houses broken into and have been threatened with weapons but I guess that happens here as well."
The girl next to Katy had been shot in the foot and fortunately recovered.
"They use to shoot at the thunder.When it was thundering and lightning,you'd hear gunshots and they'd be shooting up in the air.Weapons are quite readily available over there so sometimes there are incidents where especially the rich Kamai, because they can basically buy their way out of anything,will just kind of go and do what they want."
"There are so many road accidents over there.My friend actually saw a guy crushed to death under a tree which was struck by lightning.But I've seen three dead bodies on the road myself and that's not unusual."
"There's some shacks on my road and I'm pretty sure they're living on not much more than a dollar a day.But I can still go somewhere and spend three dollars on a meal without even thinking about it.I'll never appreciate what that's actually like."
Katy is working unpaid for the director of Mam's charity, sleeping on a camp bed in a room at a clinic and has direct contact at A.F.E.S.I.P'.s rescue centre with rescued girls sold into sex slavery as children.
"There's so few staff that I'm doing a lot of different things,from writing grant proposals to donor relationships and report writing to project management."
"I was smart enough,I think,not to have any expectations.It's so different to the offices I've worked in before.Some days the electrics will just go off three times."
Her living conditions,in one mezzanine room at a clinic,are spartan but she says:
"I haven't got a lot of privacy but the couple that I live with are so lovely."
She has also learn't and had to speak basic Kamai very quickly!
"We quite often have girls staying and they sleep on the floor,effectively in the same room as me but I'm a level up,I've got a camp bed and I bought a little deck chair so I have something to sit on and my clothes are just in a zip bag."
Katys' best memories include a three day trip with rescued girls from the centre and a visit to a beach three hours from Phnom Pen.She says:
"We were swimming with the phosphoresence,it was incredible!"
"This is it,the crap days are awful, but then the amazing days are like nothing you'd experience here.It's pretty intense;which isn't for everyone but I feel it's a bit more like real life.
The girls at the centre love her.She laughs:
"They think I'm ace!They think I'm like this Western little super angel just because I've got pale skin!
"They're like,oh, you're so beautiful and I'm like;No,you're so beautiful.They're just little girls really."
I asked about how she copes when she hears their stories:She's silent for a moment,then speaks:
"It hurts but at least I'm doing something about it.I'm 100% working against human trafficking.In five years time,human trafficking will be the largest crime in the world over drugs and weapons."
"I love it.It is challenging but that's one of the reasons I went out there.I think I'm going to find a paid job and stay out for another year or so."
"But staying won't be easy.With NGO stuff,that sometimes budgets are cut.So,if someone takes me on,I've got to hope the funding stays there.But it's good,it's good,I'm enjoying it."
Torture by any other name
It was great to catch up with my sisters' journey.In eight months,she has heard stories which will stay with her a lifetime,seen the cruel realities of poverty and of prostitutes in Cambodia and come to terms with the intensity of life in Phnom Pen.
To read Katy Molloy's blog or donate to A.F.E.S.I.P.,go to www.katylostincambodia.com
Thanks for reading.