Beauty and the Cheats

Howdy! My dear readers, it’s that time of the year when everyone’s looking for how to make the best of their summer long break. Anywho I discovered something interesting during a short Make-Up session with an ‘expert’ and I asked her a question about my skin type and she confidently recommended a product called Milk of Magnesium so I when I got home I googled it but I found something more dangerous than I thought and I felt I could share it.

Why Milk of Magnesia Is a Crappy Bad Primer
One of the so-called “beauty hacks” that’s floating around in the internet is that Milk of Magnesia supposedly makes a fabulous primer for oily skin. There are countless beauty gurus on youtube touting its mattifying tendencies. Bloggers who should really know better are recommending it. Makeup Alley has rated 4.1 out of 5 with 367 reviews.

Dear internet people: please don’t do this to yourselves. I sometimes wonder if internet browsing makes people’s skin better, since they have easy access to research, or worse, because they also have easy access to people’s crackpot theories about what they should put on their faces.

Y’all already know that there are a fair number of home remedies that make me cringe. Milk of Magnesia is the perfect example of this. Although there are some elements that may be helpful, it’s only helpful if you ignore the damage you may be inducing.

First of all, what the ever-loving fuck is Milk of Magnesia?

image

Milk of Magnesia is magnesium hydroxide suspended in water with a bit of sodium hypochlorite. Magnesium hydroxide is an inorganic compound patented in 1818 for digestive issues. It is formed by a simple salt metathesis reaction in which magnesium salt is added to ammonium hydroxide.

Mg2+ + 2OH- —> Mg(OH)2

It is most commonly used as an antacid or as a laxative. When used as an antacid, the OH- groups will pop on off the molecule and bind to the extra H+s you have in your painful, acidic belly, leaving you with water. This prevents your stomach’s hydrochloric acid from reaching your gastrointestinal nerves, meaning that you won’t be in horrible pain. Hooray! Science! When used as a laxative, you rely on Milk of Magnesia’s osmotic force. The magnesia ions formed after the OH- groups pop off aren’t absorbed by your intestinal tract, leaving you with a high concentration of magnesium ions. Osmosis, at its most basic, is a movement of water from areas with low concentrations of ions to areas with high concentrations of ions. Thus, the magnesium pulls fluid into the intestines. Your colon sexily responds by dumping its contents, triggering you to dump yours. Hooray! Bowel movements!

The second key ingredient of Milk of Magnesia, sodium hypochlorite (NaClO), is standard household bleach, which is an oxidizing agent. It’s in a very low concentration (doctors don’t usually recommend drinking large quantities of bleach), but it is a very effective buffering agent.

image

Why the fuck do people want to put laxatives on their faces?

Against all odds, there actually is a pretty good reason why people put Milk of Magnesia on their faces. A study by Stewart and Downing (1981) showed that magnesium hydroxide is remarkably effective at breaking down wax esters and steryl esters extracted from human skin. These are the major components of the oil on your face.

In other words, it really actually is a de-greaser. It’s no surprise that people keep recommending this as an option for a primer. It definitely would minimize oiliness and I have no doubt that it has the potential to prolong your makeup wear. 

Why is this a terrible, very bad, no-good idea?

Remember how magnesium hydroxide has a bunch of OH- groups ready to jump out at you and neutralize any acid that may come its way? That means that Milk of Magnesia is alkaline as fuck. It has a pH of 10.5. For comparison, ammonia has a pH of 11. Baking soda looks downright harmless in comparison, with a pH of only 8.3.

In order to ward of particularly unpleasant bacteria, your skin needs to maintain a mildly acidic pH. P. acnes, for example, is best inhibited by a pH between 4.2 and 5.6. Your skin has evolved to maintain this balance very effectively. Your sebaceous glands secrete a thin layer of acidic film called the acid mantle, which protects you from viruses, bacteria, and other potential threats. Milk of Magnesia was formulated to neutralize stomach acid. It’s going to do that, but on your face. This totally destroys your acid mantle, leaving your skin unprotected. Using Milk of Magnesia as a primer sounds like the perfect way to turn your face into a nasty-bacteria’s dream.

Interfering with the acid mantle may also cause contact dermatitis, interfere with the activation of enzymes involved in extracellular lipid processing, impede your skin’s ability to shed its dead layers, and damage overall skin integrity.

When you use Milk of Magnesia as an everyday primer, you are coating your whole face in this shit on a daily basis. This has the potential to be quite damaging. Milk of Magnesia may be effective for oil control, but there are a shitload of primers that can help control oil that are actually supposed to go on your skin. I would recommend buying one of those, instead.
By Robyn (Brightest bulb in the box: Beauty for critical minds).
I had to adjust the original because of the cursing in the post.

Parental Abuse: Wale Gates VS Cool fm’s Daddy freeze

Comedian explains possible reasons why Redeemers student murdered his father 
BY TOBI ADEYEYE ON JULY 10, 2014 METRO

Wale Gates, a comedian has defended the 21 year old student of Redeemers University, Tolani Ajayi, who murdered his father in Redeemed Camp last week.

image

Wale Gates said it was likely that Tolani was consistently victimized as a child, teenager and young adult by parents that wanted to beat the devil out of him.

He said sometimes such discipline could backfire and compared it to women who are victims of domestic abuse.

See his tweets on the matter:

First of which I quote it might come as a surprise but I have a little sympathy for the young guy that murdered his RCCG Dad.

It’s easy to sit online and judge the young man but when faced with senseless beating justified by religion and culture you might snap too.

My same question is: would you beat your child the way your parents beat you?
If your answer is NO then you know they were wrong.

This boy didn’t just wake up and murder his saint of a father, there was an altercation that went too far.

I know we wanna blame the drugs(which is most likely weed) it’s  important not to forget the trigger ( the beating and the biting from the now dead dad.

Most of the strictest parents who constantly resort to beatings are actually religious people. They wanna beat the ‘demon’ out of you.

My wife on the other hand hardly got beaten by her parents and she turned out very well with better morals than me. So beating isn’t the answer.

As a father myself now I do things differently now. My daughter would love and respect me not fear me. I don’t wanna be FEARED.

Even a continously cornered dog, sooner or later that weak dog would bite you.

Once again although he was wrong, I have some sympathy for the young man. There was no DEMON involved he only reacted to an abusive father.

Wale refers to his relationship with his father as well

We get along well now, I actually believe he’s a better man now he’s on my FB (Facebook) page, leaves comments and sends me prayers which I appreciate.

In fact two years earlier  2011 while I was in America for a show I picked up my phone and called him I knew that for me to move on I had to forgive.

In saying all these my dad came to watch me perform last year while I was in Atlanta on the LWKMD comedy tour we hadn’t seen or spoken in 12 years.

That boy that night was a cornered battered animal, he was 21 no need to beat him and bite him. He was no different from an abused wife. He Snapped.

Some people say I FEARED MY PARENTS, you are not meant to FEAR your parents. Respect them Yes but fear them? No. I don’t want my daughter to fear me.

Let me point out that I was a regular child, I did not smoke weed, steal or do crazy stuff like that. I was a restless and playful child and nothing more.

Some kind of beatings our parents gave us, we won’t give our enemies let alone our own children that’s how you know it was wrong.

It’s easy to sit online and judge the young man but when faced with senseless beating justified by religion and culture you might snap too.

I still sometimes wonder what could have happened if I couldn’t lock the room door or he got to me, one of us would have been badly hurt at least.

Unfortunately the door held, mum shocked stepped in. My brother stepped in reminding him he was a church deacon and couldn’t act like that.

Running towards me with a coke bottle, I ran back into my room locking the door behind me. He kicked the door in rage saying all sorts.

Into my neck (kept long nails) of finally pushed him off. He rushed out of the room and I stepped out to see where he was going I saw a man (dad).

All I did was just guard my face and took it, but he didn’t stop. I was backed into their bedroom, fell across the bed with his nails digging.

One night at the age of 19, we had a little disagreement so little it was pointless. And before I knew it my dad was raining blows and slaps…

As I got older late teens it progressed to heavy slaps, heavy slaps for nothing major. Like not washing his car to his standard. Got 7 for that.

The long lasting scars were more painful than the beating because everyone in school saw it and knew how I got it. Soon it progressed.

My dad only beat the back of your leg #calf with a cane which left you with scars that lasted a while unfortunately I wore shorts to school.

I’m not saying that the boy was right I’m saying I have a bit of sympathy for him because one night at the age of 19 I could have been in his situation.

I know the bible says spear the rod and spoil the child, but I’m sure there’s a common sense lone somewhere.

His preacher dad was probably no different from mine. Whose idea of discipline was to descend into unnecessary Over The top beating.

African parents sometimes cross the line between disciplining a child to torturing the child. He unfortunately snapped and lost it.

It’s easy for some of you to focus on just his actions but not what led to it. Years of constant beatings in the name of discipline…

To Follow the comedian @walegates

image

Comedian Wale Gates made a case for the Redeemer University student who reportedly killed his father during an argument in their home last week. (Read here). Now popular OAP Freeze Coolfm has written an article sharing a bit of his own experience with his own father growing up and also sheds some light on why some parents are too hard on their children. Read his article below…
I read with much respect and admiration Wale Gates tweets about the student who killed his father at the redeemed camp, and I must say he has greatly earned my respect. He chose to speak out instead of condemning and threw some light on the enormity of an issue we most often take for granted.
However, I must point out that even though we both sympathize with the boys predicament as truly many times parents turn beating, which indeed is a good form of punishment into abuse, standing up to ones parents is a sin as great in proportion to, or even greater than adultery, murder and stealing. Continue…
Honour your father and your mother is the 5th commandment (Exodus chapter 20 verse 1 to 17) while thou shall not kill and thou shall not steal are the 6th and 7thcommandment respectively. The 1st till the 4thcommandments talk about GOD the very next commandment deals with our parents, clearly signifying that after GOD our parents come next, even before priests, pastors etc. According to islamic teachings parents must always be respected
“And your Lord has decreed that you not worship except Him, and to parents, good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age [while] with you, say not to them [so much as] ‘uff’ [i.e., an expression of irritation or disapproval] and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word. And lower to them the wing of humility out of mercy and say: ‘My Lord! Have mercy upon them as they brought me up [when I was] small.’”(Quran 17:23-24)
Also a lot of us do not know that the bible actually states that if a SON is rebellious and a drunkard his parents have the right to take him outside the gates of his city and stone him to death.
18If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: 19Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; 20And they shall say unto the elders of his city, this our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. 21And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear. (Deuteronomy 21:18-21King James Version (KJV)
Most will argue that this was taken from the old testament before JESUS preached forgiveness, however it will nonetheless throw the much needed light on how important honoring your parents is in the sight of GOD. The bible also encourages parents to use the rod on their children. Do not hold back discipline from the child, Although you strike him with the rod, he will not die. (Proverbs23 verse13) But at what point do we draw the line between discipline and abuse? Personally I believe that if a father bites, brings a coke bottle or a knife to a fight with his own children it has become abuse. But no matter what a parent does to you as a child you still have no right to strike back or kill your parent! Like wale Gates I also have a very religious and strict father. While growing up with him I was often punished for offenses I considered trivial and many times I wished he died or that my mum left him so I could be free from his tyranny. I hated him so much and there were times we didnt speak for years. Fast forward ten years and I am beginning to understand some of the reasons why he was so strict. Today, he has earned my respect in many ways and because I am very much like him we never really got along. Here is a list of reasons why I believe our parents were so hard.
1. The age/generational gap; Many parents are set in their ways and believe very strongly in the methods that operated in their era and try to enforce these methods down our throats often leading to rebellion.
2. Over parenting: In this part of the world parents dont realize that they can disrespect their children, and this leads to many parents becoming too nosy, thereby interfering where not needed, giving rise to avoidable problems.
3. Fear of the future: because parents want the best for their children they often tend to push them towards safe career and relationship choices that most often arent in the best interest of the children, limiting them from maximizing their potentials.
4. Religion; Although religion serves as a system used to transfer moral uprightness from one generation to another and to bring children closer to GOD it has oftentimes proven counterproductive since some parents force their beliefs upon their children instead of allowing their children to receive their calling and experience a personal walk with GOD.
5. Outdated cultural values; Some cultures/belief systems are very limiting e.g. placing more emphasis on male education/empowerment over female etc. When parents strictly enforce these belief systems they tend to draw back or limit some of their childrens potentials leading to many instances of rebellion.
I chose to write this piece to share my views on the above, imploring parents to listen to their children more instead of employing the template used in their own personal upbringing, applied uniformly to all their children without being sensitive to their peculiar needs.
And to the children honour your father and your mother so you may live long in the land the Lord your GOD is giving you.
My dad Dr. A.G Olarinde and I have long since become best of friends and I value his counsel, leadership, teaching and friendship tremendously. I have a 12 year old son and trust me father-son relationships are not easy at any age or level and I can only pray for GOD’s guidiance.
~Daddy Freeze.

Source: Linda Ikeji’s blog via QwikGist

A Good Man in Rwanda

image

Twenty years ago, Rwanda descended into the madness of genocide. UN peacekeepers were stretched to breaking point – but one stood out, taking huge risks to save hundreds of lives.

By Mark Doyle

image

This is the story of the bravest man I have ever met.

I’ve covered many wars and seen many acts of courage. But for sheer grit and determination I’ve never known anyone to compare with Capt Mbaye Diagne, a United Nations peacekeeper in Rwanda.

I was there in 1994, when 800,000 people were killed in 100 days, and I returned to reconstruct the story of this remarkable, charismatic officer from the west African state of Senegal.

The country plunged into war and genocide on 6 April 1994, when the plane carrying the Rwandan president, a member of the majority Hutu population, was shot down. Everyone on board was killed. Within hours Hutu extremists seized power and a tidal wave of murder was unleashed against the minority Tutsi population, and anyone prepared to defend them.

The army came for Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana that first night.

As gunfire rang out, her five children, the youngest just three, were bundled through a chain link fence to be hidden in a neighbour’s house.

The children were cowering in the brick-built bungalow, occasionally peeping out of the window, when they spotted soldiers looking for their parents.

“There was more gunfire, » says Marie-Christine, the prime minister’s daughter, who was 15 at the time.

Then we heard the soldiers scream for joy. And after that there was nothing but an eerie silence.”

Agathe Uwilingiyimana was a moderate Hutu, not a Tutsi, but she was killed because she was ready to share power with them. Had the killers found the children they would have been slaughtered too.

Hours later, when UN soldiers arrived to pick up UN aid workers from the compound behind the prime minister’s residence, they discovered Marie-Christine and her brothers still hiding in the bungalow.

A fierce argument broke out about what to do with the children. It was not clear that the UN soldiers were authorised to move them, says Adama Daff, one of the aid workers, but “on humanitarian grounds we definitely could not leave them there”.

It was extremely dangerous to travel anywhere. Roadblocks manned by Hutu killers had already appeared, and the armoured personnel carriers which were supposed to have taken UN aid workers to safety had not shown up.

In the end, Daff says, it was decided that Capt Mbaye, an unarmed military observer, would take the children in his unarmoured car to the relative safety of the nearby UN-guarded Hotel des Mille Collines.

“He decided to load the kids up,” says Gen Romeo Dallaire, the Canadian commander of the small and poorly equipped UN force. “He hid them under a tarpaulin and just drove like stink.”

The gutsiness of that. There are no limits to describe how gutsy. It’s Victoria Cross-type action.”

They were the first of many people Mbaye took to the Hotel des Mille Collines – an unremarkable edifice of glass and concrete set on a hill overlooking the capital Kigali, but one of the few sanctuaries for Tutsis in the city.

Capt Mbaye Diagne was in his mid-30s, from a small village in northern Senegal, and a man of immense charm. Tall, gap-toothed and easygoing in Aviator sunglasses, his humour put people at their ease even in one of the darkest chapters of modern history.

The first, bloody days of the genocide felt like pandemonium.

There was hot lead flying in all directions and bodies lying, sometimes piled up, on the sides of the roads.

The terrifying roadblocks were mainly manned by the Hutu Interahamwe militia. The word means “those who work together”- and the work was killing Tutsis with machetes, knives and sticks. I saw one man attack another in the head with a screwdriver.

Radio stations urged them on, calling for the death of Tutsi “cockroaches”.

The shooting down of the president’s plane had rekindled a civil war between the government army and rebel forces of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) which had been briefly on hold following a tentative peace deal. Led by the Tutsi Paul Kagame, the RPF was advancing on the capital, saying it would stop the massacre.

In between the two sides was the beleaguered UN force. Its vehicles were sometimes attacked by Hutus – especially if the militia thought there were Tutsis inside them.

Within the first 48 hours, a lot of the unarmed military observers like Mbaye – especially those outside the capital – disappeared. “It took us nearly a month to find some who had gone to different countries,” says Dallaire. “Some ended up in Nairobi before we knew where they were.”

With virtually no-one to defend them, tens of thousands of Tutsis sought refuge in churches, but even here they were not safe. One of them, Concilie Mukamwezi, went with her husband and children to the Sainte Famille church, a large religious compound in the centre of Kigali. She remembers her time there with digital clarity.

“I had just bought some laundry soap from a stall when a priest in military uniform came up to me,” she says.

“He had four militiamen with him and he was armed with a Kalashnikov rifle, a pistol and grenades.

“This priest accused me of being a collaborator with the rebels.

He pointed his Kalashnikov at me like this,” she says, picking up a stick from the ground and holding it up like a rifle, “and he said he was going to fire.”

Incredible though it may seem, some Hutu clergy were collaborating in the genocide, and some were even taking part.

One of Mbaye’s jobs was to be the eyes and ears of the UN mission, and he made it his business to check occasionally on the people sheltering at Sainte Famille.

He knew Concilie by sight because before the genocide she had worked at the office of the national telephone company, Rwandatel, where he paid his phone bills. And by coincidence he happened to walk into the church compound at her moment of need.

“Captain Mbaye ran over and stood right between the priest and I,” says Concilie. “He shouted, ‘Why are you killing this woman? You must not do this because if you do the whole world will know.’” The priest backed down.

There was no large-scale killing inside the Sainte Famille compound, partly as a result of the efforts of Mbaye and the other UN peacekeepers – although plenty took place just outside.

In many churches where people had taken sanctuary, soldiers and militiamen broke in and massacred them in the pews.

Other desperate Rwandans attempted to take advantage of rescue operations launched for the country’s expat community.

Ancilla Mukangira, a Rwandan working for a German aid agency, made her way to the American Club in the mistaken belief that the Americans would give her a place in one of the vehicles due to leave the country.

“I went in to register for the convoy,” she tells me outside the old club, which is today a Chinese restaurant. “But they said no Rwandans were allowed, and told me to leave.”

Ancilla was standing, crying, on the pavement outside, when Mbaye approached her.

“What are you doing here?” he asked. “If they see you they will kill you.”

She told him she had been kicked out. He was appalled, and could barely believe it, she says, but then offered to help her himself.

“Mbaye was shocked by the behaviour of the Wazungu [whites],” says Andre Guichaoua, a French academic staying at the Mille Collines hotel, who got to know Mbaye well in the first few days of the genocide.

French, Belgian and Italian troops were flying into Kigali – but only to save their own nationals.

For a man who was a UN soldier this evacuation of Europeans by European soldiers was an absolute scandal.

“Because if you had put the French and Belgian soldiers alongside the United Nations troops it would have been perfectly possible to confront the army and militia who were directly involved in the massacres, » Guichaoua says.

“There was no co-ordination – and Mbaye was deeply horrified by this.”

In fact, there was very little co-ordination even within the UN system. While officers like Mbaye were bravely protecting those they could, UN bosses in New York were still arguing how – or even if – to support them. Soon after hostilities began they actually reduced the number of UN troops on the ground from 2,500 to less than 300.

The US, meanwhile, was determined to avoid putting boots on the ground. It was just six months after the humiliation of its forces in Somalia when 18 US rangers were killed in an incident which became known as Black Hawk Down.

So Mbaye drove Ancilla Mukangira to the Hotel des Mille Collines, past the militia men who were waiting at the gate to kill the Tutsis inside.

He told her to stay in his room and not open the door to anyone, returning only late at night, with an extra mattress for her to use.

“He saw me reading my Bible,” Ancilla remembers.

He said I should pray for my country, as awful things were happening.”

I had got to know Mbaye a little myself. Soldiers are normally wary of journalists, but, in this, as in other ways, he was different.

One day, we drove together in his white UN car to gather information about an orphanage in a suburb of the city called Nyamirambo, where it was believed several hundred vulnerable children might be hiding.

On our way there, we were stopped at a militia roadblock. One of the militiamen walked over to the car and leaned through the window holding a Chinese stick grenade. It looked like an old-fashioned sink plunger, but instead of having a rubber sucker on the end of a stout stick, it had a bomb.

He waved it at me.

“Who’s this Belgian?” he asked menacingly.

The militia considered Belgians, the former colonial power in Rwanda, to be their enemy. They had recently killed 10 Belgian soldiers, who were part of the UN force, calculating that this would make the entire Belgian UN contingent leave Rwanda – which it did.

I was terrified I was about to be killed, but Mbaye looked at the man, smiled, and cracked a joke.

“I’m the only Belgian in this car. See?” he said, pinching some of the jet-black Senegalese skin on his arm. “Black Belgian!”

The joke broke the tension of the moment. Mbaye then ordered him out of the way, the militiaman instinctively obeyed – and we drove on.

“He loved joking with people, he loved talking,” says one of his former comrades in the UN mission, Babacar Faye, now a colonel in the Senegalese army.

He used his sense of humour to talk his way through the roadblocks.”

Mbaye was a devout Muslim, but he carried alcohol in his UN 4×4 to buy the lives of people he was taking through the deadly checkpoints.

“In his car, he would often have cases of beer, bottles of whisky and lots of packets of cigarettes,” says Faye. “And he always had wads of cash.”

I once saw a list of names on a scrap of paper that had fallen out of his pocket. It was a list of first names –“Pierre”, “Marie’ – with sums of money written next to them – $10, $30 and so on.

These were his records – the amounts he had paid, often on someone else’s behalf, to get people through the checkpoints.

He sometimes even gave away his military food rations – and when his colleagues found out, they donated theirs to add to the valuable stash on the back seat of his car.

“When he was stopped at these roadblocks, the militiamen would say ‘Boss, I’m hungry’ or ‘Boss I’m thirsty’ so he’d give them a cigarette, or if it was one of the militia chiefs he’d give a beer or a whisky,” says Faye.

“This allowed him to go everywhere without making the militiamen too angry. And that’s how he saved people the militia wanted to kill – five or six people in his car at a time.”

As time went on, the war split Kigali into two zones – one controlled by the government, the other by the RPF.

The Hotel des Mille Collines was in the government-controlled zone, right next to a barracks where some of the militia leaders were based. But thanks to its armed UN guards, many Tutsis and moderate Hutus did what they could to get inside. Most had to have money or contacts.

The prime minister’s children were smuggled out of the hotel after a few days – hidden under suitcases in the back of a UN vehicle. They were taken to the airport and flown to safety, still dressed in the pyjamas they were wearing when they fled their home.

But more and more people arrived at the hotel and conditions steadily worsened. Water supplies were cut off, forcing those sheltering there to drink water from the swimming pool. At first they would boil it, but after the power was cut too, they couldn’t even do that.

On one occasion Mbaye and other UN officers tried to organise a convoy of UN trucks from the Mille Collines to the airport. A doctor, Odette Nyiramilimo was on one of the lorries with her family, while Mbaye was in the lead vehicle.

The convoy made it out of the hotel gates, but it only got a few hundred metres down the road before it was stopped by a crowd of militiamen.

A government propaganda radio station had got hold of the list of the people in the lorries, and was reading it out on air, whipping the militia into a frenzy.

“They were trying to pull us off the lorries,” recalls Dr Nyiramilimo, “shouting ‘Kill the cockroaches!’

“Then Captain Mbaye ran up. And he stood between the lorry and the militiamen holding his arms out wide.

He shouted, ‘You cannot kill these people, they are my responsibility. I will not allow you to harm them – you’ll have to kill me first.’”

Eventually, Mbaye, along with other Senegalese officers, dissuaded the militia from killing the people on the convoy. But the crowd of militiamen was too big to drive through so they had to turn the convoy back to the hotel. They had not been able to get to the airport and out of the country, but they were alive.

Back at the Mille Collines, while the doctor was giving first aid to passengers who had been dragged from the vehicles and attacked, Mbaye came up to her.

“He seemed shocked,” Dr Nyiramilimo says. “He was saying, ‘They almost killed you, you know, they really wanted to do it.’ And he was upset – he was almost crying.

What really struck me was that he seemed far more worried about us than he had been about himself. He was a hero.”

Dr Nyiramilimo and Ancilla Mukangira eventually left the hotel in later convoys. The UN organised “swaps”, with Tutsis trapped on one side of the front line exchanged for Hutus stranded on the other. In this way thousands were saved.

We will never know exactly how many people owe their lives to Mbaye.

His old friend Col Faye puts it at “400 or 500, minimum”. He believes all of the people in the Hotel des Mille Collines would have been killed had it not been for Mbaye’s pivotal role in defending it.

An official estimate by the State Department in Washington, which in 2011 honoured Mbaye with a Tribute To Persons Of Courage certificate, says the figure is “as many as 600”.

But the American Fulbright Scholar Richard Siegler, who lives in Rwanda and plans to publish a book on Mbaye, thinks the correct figure may be 1,000 or more.

“The full extent of Captain Mbaye’s actions has yet to be recognised, because those who saw him act only saw a small part of what he was doing,” Siegler says.

When you put everything he did together, it becomes clear that this was one of the great moral acts of our times.”

It would be wrong to suggest that Mbaye was the only one to have saved lives in Rwanda in 1994 – there were countless cases of extreme bravery by Rwandans themselves.

But in all of the years since the genocide, researchers have pored over the details of what happened, and none has found anyone involved in as many rescues as Capt Mbaye Diagne.

His luck finally ran out on the morning of 31 May 1994.

By this time the RPF had the upper hand but government forces were making a last stand in central Kigali. Almost every day there were big battles in the city – fights so intense that the sounds of individual guns firing merged together to make a deafening noise like rolling thunder.

It was on one of these days that Mbaye was asked to take an important written message from the head of the government army, Augustin Bizimungu, to the UN commander, Romeo Dallaire, who was based in the zone now held by the RPF.

Mbaye would have to leave the government-controlled sector by driving through a government army checkpoint.

He stopped at the checkpoint and a mortar round exploded on the road a short distance from his car.

Shrapnel tore through the bodywork.

Mbaye was hit and died instantly.

“It was a very, very difficult day,” says Dallaire, who is now a senator in the Canadian Parliament. “[There were] so many, but it stood out because we lost one of those shining lights, one of those beacon-type guys who influences others.”

Mbaye was part of a small group who had been willing to risk their lives to save others, says Dallaire.

“He had a sense of humanity that went well beyond orders, well beyond any mandate.

He moved at least half a pace faster than everybody else.”

And he had been about to go home.

“There are only 12 days left before my part in this mission ends,” he had told his wife, Yacine, on the phone three days before he was killed. “Then I will be back in Senegal. So you must pray for us.”

In that last call home to Dakar, he talked a lot about death. “That really upset me,” says Yacine. “He never used to talk like that before. I think the things he saw over there deeply affected him.”

Their two children, a boy, Cheikh and girl, Coumba, were just two and four years old when their father died. It would be two years before Yacine could bring herself to tell them the truth. “Daddy will be home when his mission ends,” she would tell them.

I asked Yacine how she had held the tragedy inside her and not shared it with her children.

“Yes, it was hard, but they would not have understood,” she says. « It was the right thing to do – to protect them from it until they could understand.”

The daughter of the assassinated prime minister, Marie-Christine Umuhoza, is now married with two children of her own.

She and her brothers were flown to France, but the country which had provided a home for the wife and family of the murdered president rejected the children of the murdered prime minister. Instead they ended up as refugees in Switzerland.

Marie-Christine lives in Lausanne, where she works as a psychiatric nurse. She had never spoken publicly about the events of 1994 before, but she told me her chilling tale with great poise and dignity.

She seems to have been able to put a tragic part of her life to one side and move on.

“When I agreed to speak to you, I did it in part so I could pay tribute to the memory of Captain Mbaye,” she says.

He is – he was – a good person. I owe him my life. If he hadn’t been there, I wouldn’t be here now.”

I heard about Mbaye’s death after noticing an unusual amount of chatter on the UN walkie-talkie network. I heard soldiers talking about a serious incident at a government roadblock in which a UN military observer may have been killed.

“Oh God, I hope it’s not Mbaye,” said a UN aid worker. But he was in denial – he knew it was Mbaye.

I rushed to the roadblock with a Canadian UN officer who also knew but couldn’t bring himself to say it.

When I found the car the body had been taken out. There was blood on the seat and in the footwell.

The next day, when his body was being taken to a plane at Kigali airport for repatriation to Senegal there was no coffin available – the UN mission was operating on such a shoestring, and had been so abandoned by the rest of the world, that Mbaye was wrapped in a large piece of the blue plastic sheeting the UN normally uses for sheltering refugees.

A UN flag was placed on top.

Just before the body was loaded, one of the other Senegalese military observers, Capt Samba Tall, approached me.

“I am a soldier,” Capt Tall said, “but you are a journalist. You must tell the story of Capt Mbaye Diagne.”

Then Capt Tall and I both broke down in tears.

image

bbc.com

Don’t Send Your Child To A Christian School

Don’t Send Your Child To A Christian School

Posted on June 2, 2014 by Ofili in Nigeria

image

Don’t send your child to a Christian School and neither should you send them to a Muslim school. And no sending them to a Catholic or Pentecostal school is not better.

Don’t even send them to an all girls school or an all boys school if you have the chance. And don’t you dare send them to a straight school or a gay school if they exist. And while you are at it, avoid sending them to a historically black school or a historically white school if you can.

Don’t send them to schools that focus on one way of thinking, on one type of culture and on one type of religion. Because the real world is too diverse for that!

A child that learns Mathematics, English, the Bible, the Koran, Sports, Leadership, without learning diversity and without living in diversity is a dangerous child!

If you take a look at the world and the problems it has, from terror groups to several hundred international wars … you will find at the core an inability of people … the protagonists … to tolerate and understand things that are different from what they know.

From Hitler versus the Jews, to Blacks versus Whites in the Civil war, to Igbos versus Nigeria in the Biafra war, to the many women that are raped and abused across the nation in guise of religion … all of them have at their core people that have not gotten to grips with diversity.

But rather than exposing our children to understand diversity and to live it. We shield them away from it, because we think we are somehow protecting them from this evil that we don’t understand. Not knowing that the more we protect them, the more they grow misunderstanding the world. Let’s raise more diverse children, especially religiously diverse children!

image

My thoughts: Truth be told the Christian schools are set to benefit the parents of loose kids who see the schools as rehab centres with educational facilities on the side. Oh! And people just christian schools = religious children and evil cannot get through to them. All the lies we tell ourselves.

The Best of Maya Angelou ‘Still I Rise’

image

Still I Rise
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.
Maya Angelou

image

Poetry at its best – RIP Maya

A Very Short Post on Rape Prevention

image

Posted on April 26, 2014 by Ofili

If owning a gun and knowing how to use it worked, the military would be the safest place for a woman. It’s not.

If women covering up their bodies worked, Afghanistan would have a lower rate of sexual assault than Polynesia. It doesn’t.

If not drinking alcohol worked, children would not be raped. They are.

If your advice to a woman to avoid rape is to be the most modestly dressed, soberest and first to go home, you may as well add “so the rapist will choose someone else”.

If your response to hearing a woman has been raped is “she didn’t have to go to that bar/nightclub/party” you are saying that you want bars, nightclubs and parties to have no women in them. Unless you want the women to show up, but wear kaftans and drink orange juice. Good luck selling either of those options to your friends.

A Short Post on Rape Prevention (via letsboldlygomotherfuckers)

Somaly Mam: The Holy Saint (and Sinner) of Sex Trafficking

By Simon Marks / May 21,2014

image

Nestled on the banks of the Mekong River, Thloc Chhroy looks like the typical rural Cambodian village. Mango trees thick with fruit are everywhere. Fishermen cast their nets from small motorboats. Elders lounge in hammocks, while children on bikes too big for them bounce along rutted dirt tracks.

But this is no ordinary village. Every now and then, a shiny four-wheel drive 4 bounces down the dirt track that leads to a refuge center of an organization whose name in French is Agir Pour Les Femmes en Situation Précaire, or AFESIP. (Rough translation: Helping Women in Danger.) Inside the vehicle you may spot a powerful government official, a heavyweight journalist or even an American movie star. They all come to meet with AFESIP’s president and co-founder, Somaly Mam, and support her courageous work fighting sex traffickers.

Mam is one of the world’s most compelling activists, brave and beautiful, and her list of supporters is long and formidable. Former U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton and actresses Meg Ryan, Susan Sarandon and Shay Mitchell, as well as New York Times Pulitzer-winning columnist Nicholas Kristof, have all toured AFESIP centers in Cambodia. Queen Sofia of Spain has for years promoted Mam’s cause and even visited her in the hospital last year when she fell ill. Mark Zuckerberg’s former PR guru, Brandee Barker, whom The New York Times recently described as “perhaps the most sought-after image consultant in the startup world,” is a board member for the Somaly Mam Foundation, and Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg is an advisory board member.

Mam has raised millions with a hectic schedule of meetings all over the globe with the good, the great and the super-rich—from the U.N.’s Ban Ki-moon to the pope. One day she will be speaking at the White House, and the next day she’ll be enthralling schoolchildren in a remote corner of Cambodia.

Mam claims to have rescued thousands of girls and women from sex trafficking, a dangerous and formidable feat. Her story becomes even more inspiring when you hear her shocking tale of being sold into sexual slavery. In 2005, she published her autobiography, The Road of Lost Innocence, which became an international best-seller. Mam was one of Time’s 100 most influential people in 2009 and has over 400,000 followers on Twitter.

She has done so much for so many, does it matter that key parts of her story aren’t true? This is a story about a story—but not quite the amazing one Mam has been telling at cocktail parties in Manhattan and Beverly Hills, or on The Tyra Banks Show. Nonetheless, it’s an astonishing tale.
image

Book of a Genesis

In 2011, Mam sat down with Sandberg at Fortune magazine’s Most Powerful Women summit and told the hushed audience what had motivated her to become a crusader against sexual slavery. “I have been sold in the brothel by the man who come and tell me that he’s my grandfather,” she said. “I stayed in the brothel nearly then 10 years. The brothel owner bring us all together, we all sit on the ground, and he tell us we have to do what he ask us to do. But one girl…she refused to do what he asked to do so he take a gun and kill her, so that is the day that I have been escaped from the brothel.”

Mam declined to be interviewed by Newsweek for this article and has declined numerous requests for comment since I started reporting on inconsistencies in her stories in 2012. But she has repeatedly claimed that her tragic tale of abuse began in 1979 with a voyage through the rolling hills of Mondulkiri, a part of Cambodia that back then was still dense forest. Accompanied by a man she identifies only as “Grandfather,” she trundled passed stilted homes inhabited by tribal villagers and forests that were home to sacred spirits.

In her autobiography, Mam tells how “Grandfather” turned her at a very young age into his domestic slave. He would gamble and drink, and when he came home, he sometimes beat her until she bled. He eventually sold her as a virgin to a Chinese merchant and then forced her to marry a violent soldier when she was just 14. She was later sold to a brothel in Phnom Penh, where she recalls being tortured with electrodes hooked up to a car battery.

But after years of servitude, Mam writes, the brothel owner, Aunt Peuve, began to give her more freedom. She still worked in the brothel, but she sometimes lived with some of the foreigners working for the plethora of humanitarian organizations that rushed in to help the country recover from the depredations of the Khmer Rouge. In 1991, she met Pierre Legros, a young Frenchman working as a biologist in Phnom Penh. This meeting, she writes, changed her outlook on life and convinced her to leave the world of prostitution for good.

She and Legros got married and moved to France in the early 1990s. Legros says he was amazed at how easily Mam took to life in Europe. “She found a job as a maid. She found a job before me. She handled the situation very quickly.… It was the Somaly that I knew. It was a woman, a warrior. She was a small warrior. I worked with her and made a big warrior out of her.”

In 1994, they returned to Cambodia. Legros had found a job working for Doctors Without Borders, and Mam began doing volunteer work in one of the organization’s clinics for patients with sexually transmitted diseases. Cambodia then had a sex trafficking crisis and the highest rate of HIV/AIDS in the Asia-Pacific region. Mam says her past and future were staring her in the face: Her destiny, she decided, would be to help girls escape her country’s notorious brothels. Mam, Legros and a friend started AFESIP, a small but feisty nongovernmental organization.

Mam and Legros were an intrepid and attractive couple fighting for the most worthy of causes, and the media soon began to take an interest. At first they were hard-pressed for cash, but a France 2 documentary broadcast in 1998 gave AFESIP major exposure and helped get Mam chosen as one of seven celebrated women honored with the prestigious Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation. Among the other winners were Emma Bonino, a former European commissioner for humanitarian aid, and Olayinka Koso-Thomas, a Nigerian-born doctor who had campaigned for decades against the genital mutilation of women.

Legros was now thinking big, far beyond the borders of Cambodia: AFESIP satellites offices were opened in Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, France and Switzerland. He knew that Mam needed more media exposure if their grand ambitions were to be achieved. “We knew that the visibility on television is very short-lived. You’re known and then you disappear. I always said to Somaly, ‘The real thing to do after the television is to write a book.’”

After Mam made a televised appearance with Bonino in the early part of the past decade and talked about her own story, several publishers expressed interest in a book deal. Legros recalls that an agent working for one publishing house in Paris burst into tears while listening to Mam tell her story in her office. Published in France in 2005; published in America three years later, The Road of Lost Innocence was translated into Japanese, Swedish and over a dozen other languages.

About a year later, Mam set up the Somaly Mam Foundation, the next step in her long journey to international recognition. As the years went by, Mam and her organization went from triumph to triumph, bringing in more and more money. Mam is now a superstar in the mostly gritty world of nonprofits, and a jet-setting global icon, but she always insists that her real life is with her “girls” back in Phnom Penh.

image

A Chilling Performance

Mam has done much for those girls, and a few of them have done much for her. Mam’s success has been due to her energy, her fearlessness and her charisma. It is also due to the shocking stories she and her girls have told.

In 2009, Nicholas Kristof wrote in The New York Times about a girl named Long Pross, who had finally summoned the strength to tell her stunning story of sexual slavery. He reported that a woman had kidnapped Pross and sold her to a brothel, where she was beaten, tortured with electric wires, forced to endure two crude abortions and had an eye gouged out with a piece of metal by an angry pimp. Pross, Kristof said, was rescued by Mam and became part of her valiant group of former trafficking victims fighting for a world free of sexual slavery.

Pross also told her disturbing story on Oprah and appeared in the PBS documentary Half the Sky. “Believe it or not, when I returned home, my mother and father didn’t want me around. I wasn’t considered a good person,” she says in the documentary.

Equally hard to believe is the fact that Pross’s family, neighbors and medical records all tell a different story. Dr. Pok Thorn says he performed surgery on Pross when she was 13, after her parents brought her to a hospital with a nonmalignant tumor covering her right eye. Photographs in her medical records clearly show the young girl’s eye before and after the surgery.

So how did she come to be one of Somaly Mam’s girls? Te Sereybonn, director of Cambodia’s Takeo Eye Hospital back then, says his staff contacted AFESIP to see if they could admit Pross to one of their vocational training programs.

Another of Mam’s biggest “stars” was Meas Ratha, who as a teenager gave a chilling performance on French television in 1998, describing how she had been sold to a brothel and held against her will as a sex slave.

Late last year, Ratha finally confessed that her story was fabricated and carefully rehearsed for the cameras under Mam’s instruction, and only after she was chosen from a group of girls who had been put through an audition. Now in her early 30s and living a modest life on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Ratha says she reluctantly allowed herself to be depicted as a child prostitute: “Somaly said that…if I want to help another woman I have to do [the interview] very well.”

She, like Pross, was never a victim of sex trafficking; she and a sister were sent to AFESIP in 1997 because their parents were unable to care for all seven of their children.

image

Lost Innocence

Interviews with Mam’s childhood acquaintances, teachers and local officials in the village where she grew up contradict important, lurid details in her autobiography. Many of the villagers in Thloc Chhroy say they never met or even saw Mam’s cruel “Grandfather,” the rich Chinese merchant who allegedly raped her or the violent soldier she says she was forced to marry.

Orn Hok, a former commune chief, remembers well the day Mam arrived in the village, noting, “Somaly came here with her parents. She is a daughter of Mam Khon and Pen Navy.”

Pen Chhun Heng, now in her 70, says she is a cousin of Mam’s mother and rejects the notion that Mam was adopted or that she was raised (or kept) by “Grandfather.”

Sam Nareth, a childhood friend of Mam’s, says Mam first attended school in the village in 1981 and remained there until she got her high school diploma. “She finished secondary school in 1987, and Somaly and I went to sit the teachers exam in Kompong Cham together.”

Thou Soy, who was the director of Khchao High School in Thloc Chhroy, distinctly remembers Mam attending classes between 1981 and 1987 as does the current commune chief, Thorng Ruon, and his two predecessors. Mam was well-known and popular in their small village, a happy, pretty girl with pigtails.

Not even Mam can keep the story straight. In February 2012, while speaking at the White House, she said she was sold into slavery at age 9 or 10 and spent a decade inside a brothel. On The Tyra Banks Show, she said it was four or five years in the brothel. Her book says she was trafficked when she was “about 16 years old.”

Mam’s confusion isn’t limited to her book, or the backstory for some of “her girls.” In 2012, she admitted—after being confronted with some of my early reporting—that she had made false claims in a speech to the U.N. General Assembly in which she said eight girls she had rescued from the sex industry were killed by the Cambodian army after a raid on her shelter in 2004.

Rights workers and police officials, including Deputy National Police Chief Lieutenant General Un Sokunthea, who was head of the Interior Ministry’s anti-human trafficking department in 2004, and a senior official at the U.N.’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Phnom Penh, have also strongly denied highly publicized claims by Mam, in Glamour magazine and The New York Times, that traffickers kidnapped her 14-year-old daughter in 2006 and videotaped the girl being gang-raped in retaliation for Mam’s work. Legros and Aarti Kapoor, a former legal adviser to AFESIP, both say the young girl was never kidnapped; instead, they say, she had run away from home with her boyfriend.

Legros, who split from Mam in 2004 and lost custody of their children in Cambodia, now says he is not surprised that the truthfulness of her autobiography is being questioned. And although he brokered the book deal and selected the ghostwriter, he denies helping Mam make up her stories. He adds, however, that “I did not search the truth. My objective was that she felt good with herself.”
image

Mam Dearest

Many of the people who have been charmed by Mam refuse to believe that she is anything other than what she claims to be. They talk of how inspiring she is and how holy her mission is. Fashion photographer Norman Jean Roy, who in 2008 documented Cambodia’s sex trade and shot some heartrending portraits of Long Pross, once said of Mam, “One of the things that’s unique about her is that she has this almost saint-like quality about her when she walks into a room, when she walks around the children.”

But those who have worked with Mam in Cambodia say there is a vast difference between the image she puts forward in the media spotlight and the one she shows in Phnom Penh. “[With donors], she’s very polished and very on and very charming…exceedingly charming,” says Candace Blase, who worked as a volunteer psychologist for AFESIP in 2011. “And when people are not there, she can be tyrannical; she’s moody, she’s erratic, she’s entitled.” Blase adds that she saw Mam ordering the girls she looks after to carry out personal chores for her.

Another former employee of the Somaly Mam Foundation in Cambodia recalls conversations with Mam in which she said she was invincible. “She feels unstoppable. She used to talk to me about wanting to put things in people’s food and how easy it would be to poison someone.

“It was such a traumatic and hostile environment,” the former employee continues. “We were treated very much in a hostile and aggressive way. You’re either part of the group or you’re not, and if you’re not part of the group, bad things can happen to you. And that was said in sometimes very direct terms.”

Former employees in Cambodia of both AFESIP and the foundation admit they knew about some of the questionable techniques used to raise awareness and funding, but they say nobody spoke up due to a mixture of fear of Mam and threats from others. “Why does everybody keep quiet about everything?” Blase asks. “I think it’s very hard to accept that a woman who is in a nurturing position, which she sort of is, has the capacity to be the way Somaly is.… People keep their mouths shut because it’s in their own self-interest to do so.”

Daniela Papi, founder of PEPY, an organization that promotes education and youth leadership, argues that those doing heroic aid work become immune to criticism. “Most people want to believe that people are good,” she says. “We see this hero and we buy into the hero, and actually the person we are defending is ourselves. It’s not them anymore, it’s yourself for being duped.”

According to a close acquaintance of Mam’s in Phnom Penh, who insisted on remaining anonymous for fear of retribution, there have been doubts about Mam’s life story for years, but “it’s all about image, getting to the big shot who has a lot of money and who feels sorry for this kind of story. They’re very successful, and they have been very successful in an incredible way because they connect with the right people, and they have all the movie stars, famous rock stars and famous people supporting them, and [all those people] are still being taken for a ride now.”

image

“Pull Out the Most Gory Story”

At the heart of the questions surrounding Mam is a debate within the nonprofit sector on the acceptable tactics for fundraising and educating the public. For a long time, there has been a strong push to move away from using children to raise funds. “If your goal is fundraising, you actually have an incentive to pull out the most gory story,” Papi explains, “and so we get completely false realities of the world.”

Experts in sex trafficking say that while it is a serious problem, the scale and dynamics of the situation are often misunderstood, in part because of lurid, sensationalistic stories such as those told by Mam and her “girls.” In 2009, 14 organizations and academics, including George Soros’s Open Society Foundations, wrote a letter to Salty Features, an independent film production company based in New York, to thank it for its interest in making a film about Mam’s work in Cambodia.

But they advised against having the documentary focus on Mam due to AFESIP’s lack of understanding of the sex industry. In an interview for Euronews in 2012, Mam said girls as young as 3 are being held in Cambodian brothels. Experts in the field say that is almost unheard-of. Patrick Stayton, who formerly ran the Christian, faith-based International Justice Mission (IJM) in Cambodia, says, “They may have had a supply of younger girls between the age of 14 and 17,” but adds, “We’ve never seen prepubescent girls, or very, very rarely.”

“[O]ver the last 10 years, the public justice system’s response to commercial sexual exploitation of children has improved significantly,” IJM stated in a report last year, noting a huge difference in donor funding for projects dealing with child victims of the sex industry and sexual abuse. “The decrease has been noted most within the group of young minors.”

Thomas Steinfatt, a professor of statistics at the University of Miami, has done several reports on sex trafficking for the U.N.’s Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking. In a 2008 study, for which he spent months conducting surveys in all corners of Cambodia, he estimated there were no more than 1,058 victims of trafficking in Cambodia and has said the situation has improved markedly since then.

The number of children, both those observed as sex workers and those mentioned by management or by sex workers in the 2008 data, was 127, with 11 of the children verifiably under age 15 and six under age 13. The high-end estimate for the number of children likely involved in sex work in Cambodia in 2008 was 310 children.

In response to a newspaper story about victim stories allegedly fabricated by Mam, Sébastien Marot, the executive director of Friends International, an organization that helps train and educate children in precarious situations, posted a response on the organization’s website: “A large number of organizations get sucked into using children to raise funds: making them talk about the abuse they survived in front of a camera, having their picture in a pitiful situation published for everyone to see. In worst cases, the truth is distorted or the stories invented to attract more compassion and money. The impact on the lives of these children is terrible: If they come from an abusive situation, such a process re-traumatizes them and in any case it stigmatizes them forever.”

image

A Crack in the Wall

I have spent over two years in Europe and Cambodia unraveling Mam’s many stories through a series of newspaper articles, and for most of that time, she, AFESIP and her foundation have stonewalled. They have resolutely stood behind their leader, their hero. It was only in the past two months, while I was reporting this story, that cracks started to appear.

In April, after repeated requests from Newsweek for an interview with Mam, Gina Reiss-Wilchins, the foundation’s executive director, said in a statement on the foundation’s website: “Following an internal review, the Foundation has recently launched an independent, third-party investigation to further examine these claims. Somaly Mam is in full support of this review. We can only hope that this does not deter other survivors from sharing their experiences, because it is their courageous voices that bring promise of a world free from trafficking.”

The foundation’s board retained the law firm Goodwin Procter, which has offices in the U.S., Europe and Asia. The firm also declined to speak to Newsweek, citing attorney-client privilege. Goodwin Procter and the Somaly Mam Foundation also declined to say when the investigation would be completed and if the results would be shared.

In April, Mam spoke to her supporters about the controversies swirling around her in a statement posted on the foundation’s website. “Many of you know my story of what I have been through. This pain never leaves me.… I have lived my life day by day, with love and forgiveness, and the belief that helping others could give them voice and choice and create change. I wrote my book to shed light on the lives of so many thousands of other women who have shared my fate. They have no voice, so I let my voice stand for theirs.”

That message still seems to resonate with many of the people who admire Mam. In October, a post on what purports to be her Facebook page said: “I Fall, I Rise, I Make Mistakes, I Live, I Learn, I’ve been Hurt, But I’m Alive, I’m Human and I’m not perfect but I learn every day and with every one to be better, but I promise you never perfect…teach and show me on the positive way…thanks.”

In response, one of her supporters wrote: “I’ve been there myself and though mistakes have been made along the way, they were often done so with a much more powerful intention…and that has proved true here. Those mistakes have led to helping so many people and bringing international attention to a VERY serious problem…kudos to you!”