Marie Cammal doesn’t like drawing attention to herself or being feted as someone special. However, it’s impossible not to admire someone who has given so much for the children of Cambodia. Her work has been recognized and praised internationally. In 2004 Marie was quite literally named a ‘hero’ as a recipient of a European Heroes award. Time Magazine singled her out as one of 27 European Heroes.
For Marie though, the focus should be on the children themselves. Her attention and admiration is only toward them. “They are the heroes,” she says, “because they were able to overcome their situation and make so much effort to change.”
Working with Refugees
Marie moved to Asia in 1980 as a nurse working in refugee camps. Marie came first in Cambodia in 1983, then came back in 1987 to work with the Japanese Volunteers International Center. By the 1990′s she found her heart moved more and more by the plight of children in Cambodia.
Many had no families, and were vulnerable to abuse, torture and rape.
Sok Sabay – Happiness
Marie came back again to Cambodia in 1992 to work with international organizations, then in 1997 after 2 surveys in Cambodia she realized that the most terrible things happened to very young children trapped in prostitution, torture, abandonment and rape.
Marie then decided to set up a center for young prostituted children under 15 years old, and called her organization Sok Sabay because it means “happiness” in Khmer. The first year, she had 10 children under 15 years old from Cambodia and Vietnam.
In the early 2000, Marie had experienced new tragedies – children abandonment, rape and torture. She decided to extend her mandate to all children who have been mistreated.
A wise proverb says that “if you leave homes or family because of love, you will receive 100 times that much back again”. Marie proves this principal to be true as she now has a large and growing family of over 50 children.
They are her heroes.
Article by Mark Trudinger
If you would like to know more about Sok Sabay or to talk to Marie personally, please contact us. You can also subscribe to this website to get regular updates about Sok Sabay. To become a Donor for one of our projects or Godparent to one or more of the children, please contact Marie.
Marie and Sok Sabay are able to continue this important work with children solely though the donations of friends around the world. If you would like to donate, please click here. You can also send Marie medical supplies or stationary to support her children every day (P.O. Box 427, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, contact Marie for a list of needed medicine).