Deep in the Cambodian countryside hundreds of miles from the city and years behind the modern world the life of a 13-year-old girl seems simple. But for Sophon (not her real name) life wasn't always so sweet. Her country, Cambodia, has the distinction of being Asia's sex trafficking capital. Like many young girls, Sophon was sold into prostitution by her own, desperately poor family when she was just six years old.
She escaped from a brothel in neighboring Thailand by running to the police. They sent her to Cambodia, where Somaly Mam, the founder a shelter for young girls, Acting for Women in Distressing Situations , is giving her a new, loving home.
"I love my life here. I can live like I want to," Sophon, 13, said. "Here, nobody is difficult. Nobody makes me angry. Nobody makes me upset. I love Somaly like a mother and she loves me like a daughter."
Few could understand Sophon's pain better. As a young woman, Mam herself escaped the sex trade. And, today, she helps dozens of young girls like Sophon.
"I take her and play with her, I bring her to the hospital and she wants one thing -- to go home," Mam said. "And I told her you cannot go home. How can I explain it to her?"
Sophon's day begins -- always on time and without complaint -- at school. Her school is a happy, energetic place, although many of her classmates were also once sold for sex. Classes begin at 7 am and end at noon before it gets too hot. Although the school is not equipped with computers, Sophon and her classmates study math, grammar and geography. Sophon has the best grades in the school.
After school, she walks home with her classmates and changes into play clothes and enjoys her stable, peaceful life.
"I love all my roommates and the parents who take care of me," she said.
Like Sophon, many of the children were sold into the trade by their own relatives parents, siblings, aunts, uncles so now the other children and the teachers here are their only family. They are left to wander cities like the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh, where underage prostitutes abound, many of them working just yards from the prime minister's house.
That frightening past is just a memory for Sophon and for a 13-year-old girl who has already survived so many nightmares, this is the best of dreams.