Please show your support on the issue of human trafficking by voting for Rani Hong to represent Washington state at the National Jefferson Awards in Washington, D.C. Voting is open the week of April 5-9, 2010.
Paulose, a farmer in a hot corner of India in 1999, looked up suddenly from his work, not believing his ears. He strained to hear the conversation of the people in the road, and then walked over to be sure he had not been dreaming. There was a small gathering of villagers talking about a visitor to the village. An American woman named Rani, who looked Indian but did not speak the local language. She was looking for her files that may help lead her to any distant family members. "That's our Rani! That's our Rani!" shouted Paulose. "She's come home to us!" As he shouted, he dropped his hoe and sprinted away to go and track her down. So began the rarest of reunions, 21 years in the making: a child stolen from her family at the age of 7, sold into slavery, liberated years later, returning to her native village to put the pieces of her life history back together.
The life history of Rani Hong is complicated and, in many places, tragic. She is a survivor of the human trafficking that thrives all over the world, but particularly in India. Unlike many victims of this crime, however, Rani not only was rescued from her slaveholders, but raised in the United States by an adoptive mother who instilled her with the belief that love can conquer any evil. Together with her husband Trong, also a survivor of child trafficking out of Vietnam, they use this shared belief to dedicate their lives to the goal of a slave-free world as founders of the nonprofit organization The Tronie Foundation.
This was just the beginning of Rani's passion and her lifetime commitment to end the modern day slave trade worldwide. This began her work as an abolitionist, calling others to action, and she became a strong voice in the anti-trafficking movement.
In 2002, Rani worked with Washington state legislators to pass the first law in the country to institute statewide anti-trafficking legislation. By invitation, Rani has worked with the U.S. Department of State as an ambassador expert in trafficking issues. In this capacity, she traveled to India in 2009 to speak at U.S. embassies in Calcutta and New Delhi, sharing her story, speaking out against trafficking, and through media events, reached an audience of several million people in her home country to share her message about the horrors of human trafficking.
In March of this year, Rani continued her work in Washington state by bringing together representatives from the Governor's office, the Attorney General's office, State legislators, the nonprofit community and the news media to unite to help Washington become the first slave-free state in the nation. Her advocacy work with thousands of people is setting the path for activism in their local communities.
Beyond the work in Washington state, Rani Hong now receives support from advisers in Los Angeles -- primarily Diane McArter, Sir Ken and Lady Terry Robinson and colleagues of theirs in Los Angeles ranging from the entertainment, advertising, legal and medical fields. They participated in a strategic planning session in Santa Monica, Calif. in January, 2010, which has been a milestone in Hong's work to bring worldwide attention to the issue of slavery and provide the inspiration and direction to continue the battle to stop slavery in our state, in our country and in our world.
From a poverty-stricken village in India to the Capitol Building in Olympia, Washington, to international parliaments and numerous international press conferences, Rani Hong and the Tronie Foundation are striking proof that with courage and a passion for justice, people's eyes can be opened to the reality of the enslaved, laws can be changed and one voice can be joined with many to make way for a world that is truly slave-free.
You can also visit http://www.youtube.com/user/thetroniefoundation for more information.
Written by Dana Marie Shepherd, Secretary of Tronie Foundation, and supported by Sir Ken Robinson.