It is time we inspect the basic motives to why we engage in this fight against injustice. Whether it is on grounds of human decency and equality, or because we are compelled by our faith; let's recalibrate our moral compass so it is not led astray by our tendency to strive for the sensational stories.
In order to renew our trust in the process of helping others -- to let these experiences with Somaly become a lesson in cautious optimism, not cynicism, I've outlined a few charities that I know are doing excellent work in Cambodia.
The problem is much larger than Somaly Mam or these orphanages. Worldwide there are "victim scripts" that individuals must conform to and perform in order to receive attention and assistance.
Many argue that Somaly Mam did a lot to focus attention on the plight of these children even if she was lying about her own circumstances and, indeed, she did. But now it turns out that may have caused irreparable damage.
To be champions of what is right, we must act in the right. Strength and change start with truth.
There is no place for fiction in the not-for-profit world.
When trust is breached, those even slightly involved with the targeted fabricator panic and recoil. The fight or flight response kicks in: Does one stay silent and hide; or support and defend?
Just as professional athletes take steroids, it seems as if embellishing or even fabricating stories has become the stimulant of choice for nonprofit leaders looking to gain a competitive edge.
Hairdresser Michael Angelo normally spends hectic days at his salon in NYC, but recently he was in Cambodia, training young women who are survivors of the global sex trafficking epidemic how to blow dry, give manicures, cut, color and style, teaching them to take control of their images.