The Profiles in Courage Award 2011.
The Kennedy Society has decided to present for 2011 The Profiles in Courage Award - John F. Kennedy’s book “Profiles in Courage” - to Somaly Mam, Cambodia, based on this LAUDATION: For her courage to survive as a child and young girl after enduring utterly inhuman conditions. She explains it all in her book “The Road of Lost Innocence” published in English in 2008.
For her courage to translate what she has gone through into good deeds for many others, just as she dedicated her book, first published in France in 2005, “to the thousands of little girls who are sold into prostitution every year.”
She says in her book, “Before I turned five, the country had been carpet-bombed by the Americans.” She also tells from her experience – in honest courageous words – “I hate marriage. It puts women in prison. On her wedding day the girl obeys her parents and when the ceremony is over she is raped.” But Somaly Mam has also had the courage to show that, in her culture it shocked her to hear a Frenchman talk to his mother, “How could he say ‘I don’t give a damn’ to his own mother? In Cambodia, no matter how old you are, you keep quiet in front of your parents and always show respect.”
Out of respect for her father, she tells us, “He never spoke about prostitution, but said these wise words, ‘What you have learned from experience is worth much more than gold. If you have a house it may burn down. Any kind of possession can be lost, but your experience is yours forever. Keep it and find a way to use it.’ ” The final words in her book are fundamental, “People ask me how I can bear to keep doing what I do. I’ll tell you. The evil that’s been done to me is what propels me on. Is there any other way to exorcise it?” This is after the words of Saint Paul to the Romans 12: 17, “Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.”
In the words of President Kennedy, 1961, We are “unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.”
In the words of Jacqueline Kennedy about her husband, 1964 “John Kennedy believed so strongly… that one person can make a difference and that everyone should try.”
Also Robert F. Kennedy, whose courage in trying to win the greatest victory of all – the victory over war itself – wrote in his 1967 book “To Seek a Newer World”, speaking of every aspect of conflict and war, “Guns and bombs cannot fill empty stomachs or educate children, cannot build homes or heal the sick. But these are the ends for which men establish and obey governments.”
In her book, translated into Danish in 2009, Somaly Mam concludes, “I strongly believe that love is the answer and that it can mend even the deepest, unseen wounds. Love can heal, love can console, love can strengthen and yes, love can make a change.”