There are many words to describe the subject of this story. Courageous and Compassionate come to mind immediately. Survivor is another word.
Rani Hong is a survivor of child trafficking and was repeatedly told by her traffickers in India, "No one will ever listen to you." She was just seven years old.
If they could only hear her now, and see her now, almost forty years later.
“I had to think, 'How am I going to get my message across to raise awareness?'" Rani said.
The United Nations isn’t a bad place to start.
Consider this. Rani Hong has worked as a U.N. special advisor on human trafficking. She was invited to the U.N. in September to share her personal story and deliver her inspiring message.
“I tell my story because there are millions of other individuals like the girl I was, “ she said. “Imprisoned, enslaved, silent.”
She’s no longer silent. She’s speaking for those who can’t and through her foundation, the Tronie Foundation. She’s raising awareness about human trafficking.
“We’re talking about modern day slavery which is now a $150 billion industry," she said.
Rani credits her adoptive mom for saving her life. Nellie Jean Clark passed away thirty years ago and never got to see her daughter in action. We did. We saw her do a training workshop for hospitality workers in Snohomish County. She challenged them with these words: “My goal is to inspire you with action.”
“Often times they don’t know how to identify a situation of forced labor,” she told us at her Olympia home. “A lot of times they’re maids or nanny’s working in our hotels, working in our restaurants.”
Changing our thinking, breaking the supply chain, eliminating forced labor. Rani Hong is challenging companies to do just that. Diamond Technology Innovations has earned the Freedom Seal from the Tronie Foundation.
“So the Freedom Seal means to us is the ability for companies to look at their supply chains to ensure that they’re using fair labor practices, that they are attempting to eradicate human trafficking not only in their companies but in their communities," said Tanya Jernigan, the company's co-founder.
What can we do in schools? Schools can do what Olympia High School is doing thanks to Rani’s challenge.
“Our students in the student store can ask, 'What company are we going to buy from?'” Principal Matt Grant said. “They decide they’re going to scrutinize things a little bit more. “
Olympia High School has been designated as “Slave Free Zone." Rani’s son, Andrew, is a freshman.
“I’m proud of her,” Andrew said.
And you just know Rani’s mom would have been proud of her as well. Rani is the proud recipient of the United Nations Human Rights Award and the City of Seattle has honored her with the Distinguished Citizen Award for Human Rights. Rani thinks about her mom when she thinks about these honors.
“The most wonderful mother who changed my life,” she said, holding back tears.
It’s a life that has led her down this path of speaking up for those who can’t.
For more information about the Tronie Foundation and the work Rani’s is doing, you can visit the website ranisvoice.com.