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Susan Sarandon, Danny Abeckaser Honored By together1heart For Fighting Human Trafficking

Lee Fryd

Actors Susan Sarandon, AnnaLynne McCord, Danny Abeckaser attend the Together1Heart Gala at TAO Downtown. (Photo by Stephen Smith/Guest of a Guest)

Susan Sarandon and Somali Mam stood together on stage at the inaugural together1heart New York Gala on October 1 to end the slavery and support the rights of women across the globe. Sarandon was being honored with Israeli actor/writer/producer Danny Abeckaser, at TAO Downtown. Mam, a survivor of sex trafficking slavery, started her own foundation to counter the human slavery business - estimated to generate seven to 19 billion dollars yearly, and enslave almost 22 million people - by providing empowering services for victims.

"In this time when you can be disheartened and distraught, look instead at how many women are finding their voices and how many men are standing beside them," Sarandon said. "Love is a powerful force and we are all privileged to be part of the love Somaly Mam brings to a difficult story. Look at what Somaly has done, what one person can do. She invited me to meet the young women and girls in her program. What I met were strong women. You don't forget the past but you can move forward." Said Somaly on closing, "Susan, I love you very much."

Perhaps it was the zeitgeist that moved the room to tearful standing ovations for each speaker. It's a tough story to hear. Bill Livermore, Executive Director of together1heart, said the age of these children being sold into Cambodian brothels continues to get younger. "Somaly Mam recently rescued a child of only 22 months," he said.

Sina Vann, herself a survivor of sex slavery, and now a staff member of together1heart, described the horrific conditions she was kept in against her will, and the joy she now experiences working with survivors. Actor, writer, and producer Danny Abeckaser received the "Voices for Change" award for his generous support of both the organization and for the chairman, actress AnnaLynne McCord. Said McCord, "This organization changed my life, gave me a sense of worth, and an understating of what one person can do. When you show up for children you change the world. I want to applaud everyone who showed up tonight."

Guests included Model Carol Alt, Adrianna Beer, Andrea Cataneo, Yuliya Dan, Ezequiel de la Rosa, Victor DeSosa, Claude Hildenbrand, Arielle Jacobs (Jasmine from Disney's Aladdin), Jenn Lyon (HBO Claws), Jennifer MacFarlane, Ty-ron Mayes, Samira Panah, Jean Shafiroff, and Chris Talbot.

together1heart works to care for and secure the rights of young women and girls who are victims, or at risk of being victims, of slavery, and to successfully recover, educate, train and reintegrate them into mainstream society through financial independence in a sustainable and innovative manner. They accomplish this by helping and teaching them how to achieve financial independence through sustainable careers and welcomes them to become a part of their survivor empowerment network.

It was a moving evening with every speaker receiving a standing ovation. Bill Livermore, Executive Director of together1heart, cited a figure of 22 million girls currently held in sex slavery worldwide and the emergence of significantly younger women being sold into Cambodian brothel's. "Somaly Mam recently rescued a child of only 22 months," he said.

Sina Vann, herself a survivor of sex slavery, and now a staff member of together1heart, described the horrific conditions she was kept in against her will, and the joy she now experiences working with survivors. Actor, writer, and producer DannyAbeckaser received the "Voices for Change" award for his generous support of both the organization and for the chairman, actress AnnaLynne McCord. Said McCord, "This organization changed my life, gave me a sense of worth, and an understating of what one person can do. When you show up for children you change the world. I want to applaud everyone who showed up tonight."

Susan Sarandon and Somaly Mam together on stage made an indelible impression. Said Susan, "In this time when you can be disheartened and distraught, look instead at how many women are finding their voices and how many men are standing beside them. Love is a powerful force and we are all privileged to be part of the love Somaly Mam brings to a difficult story. Look at what Somaly has done, what one person can do. She invited me to meet the young women and girls in her program. What I met were strong women. You don't forget the past but you can move forward". Said Somaly on closing, "Susan, I love you very much".

Guests included Model Carol Alt, Adrianna Beer, Andrea Cataneo, Yuliya Dan, Ezequiel de la Rosa, Victor DeSosa, Claude Hildenbrand, Arielle Jacobs (Jasmine from Disney's Aladdin), Jenn Lyon (HBO Claws), Jennifer MacFarlane, Ty-ron Mayes, Samira Panah, Jean Shafiroff, and Chris Talbot.

together1heart works to care for and secure the rights of young women and girls who are victims, or at risk of being victims, of slavery, and to successfully recover, educate, train and reintegrate them into mainstream society through financial independence in a sustainable and innovative manner. They accomplish this by helping and teaching them how to achieve financial independence through sustainable careers. together1heart welcomes them to become a part of our survivor empowerment network.

For more information, visit www.together1heart.org.




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