Rani Hong was a very young girl in rural India when her life was snatched away from her by human trafficking. In desperation, her mother allowed her to be taken away by a woman she thought she could trust, a woman who promised to care for Rami. And she did, for a while. However, the lure of money was too great and Rami was sold into human trafficking at age seven.
I was taken to an area where I did not know the language, where everyone was a stranger,” Hong recalls. “I cried for my mom to come and get me – that’s all a seven-year-old mind can understand.” Traumatized, she stopped eating and became physically and mentally ill. “My captors labeled me ‘destitute and dying,’ meaning that I had no value in the forced child labor market.” The only way the traffickers could profit from her, Hong explains, was to put her up for illegal international adoption. Trafficked into Canada, she was beaten, starved, and caged – “seasoned for submission,” in the parlance of her captors. A photo of her at age eight shows an emaciated little girl with prominent bruises on her arms and legs, whose eyes are swollen nearly shut. “I couldn’t even talk,” she says. “I had completely shut down.”
There is redemption in Hong’s story. She was eventually adopted by a woman in Canada (whose adoption agency was unknowingly working with traffickers). Her loving mother made sure Rani felt safe, teaching her to play; Rani eventually excelled at soccer, a game that she says gave her confidence.
Rani now runs the Tronie Foundation with her husband (also a human trafficking survivor), an organization that educates the public about human trafficking and supports survivors in more than 20 countries through mentorship programs and services that allow for healing.
Trafficking of humans violates not only the dignity of each person that it touches, it affects rule of law, economies and jobs. At $32 billion dollars a year and growing, it is second only to the illegal drug trade in global criminal activity.
Read more of Rani Hong’s story at The Rotarian Magazine.