Born on July 4th, 1998, America’s independence day, it is no coincidence my nation’s liberty still runs through my veins.
When I was eight years old, my family moved on an expat assignment to Bangalore, India-- my new home for the next three and a half years. Through my travels to other impoverished nations such as Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, South Africa, Indonesia, Egypt, and Nepal, I witnessed extreme poverty first hand. However, these experiences impacted me most upon my return home to the Bay Area, California, where, surrounded by affluence, education, and resources, I realized the disparity between my life and the children in India. However, what shocked me most was extreme unawareness of modern slavery. To my disbelief, a vast majority of my friends and family were ignorant that slavery still existed today.
After realizing the ignorance of such an extreme topic, I had the opportunity to spread awareness when my 7th grade english teacher, Mrs. Halla, assigned my class to write the first few pages of a book. Beginning as a three-page story, Freedom Child soon transformed into a novel.
However, it took a challenging, exciting, and invigorating six year journey to get here.
In the 8th grade, after visiting the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C, I remember breaking down and crying in my hotel room. The millions of innocent people trapped in the Holocaust had no way to scream for help or share their stories. That day in D.C I felt helpless as to what I could do to help the millions oppressed in the Holocaust of today: modern day slavery.
How was I, a thirteen-year-old girl, supposed to end an issue as colossal and daunting as slavery?
But my english teacher, Mrs. Senner, soon helped me realize I could do something, because as long as I had my freedom, I can give a voice to the voiceless. Great books disrupt our ability to remain ignorantly comfortable, reminding us that society is flawed and sparking passion to ensure social justice will prevail. Powerful stories, with inspirational and horrific characters, have the power to touch our hearts and turn our minds. This was my goal when I began writing my book. My intentions were not simply to educate my readers of the injustice, but to instill an emotion that sparked a call to action, encouraging them to join the efforts to eradicate the issue.
In hopes of spreading awareness, my three-page short story soon turned into a 300-page novel and a 200-page sequel, revealing the concealed corruption and prevalent issue in India.
Over the summer of my sophomore year in high school I returned to India to further my research. My trip allowed me to discover the many root causes of slavery such as lack of education, poverty, corruption, and caste, and I was able to share my experience and story with my school Junior Year, which can be viewed on Youtube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E3RwRDZHriQ
Two summers later my high school, Sacred Heart Preparatory, granted me the legachy scholarship. I returned to India again to work on one of the many solutions: education and awareness of individual rights. In my senior year of high school I continued my research in further depth through a Senior Honors Independent Study: “The influence of corruption, poverty, and the caste system on Modern Day Slave Labor in India, and the power of self-identity and India's public policy as solutions.”
Eradicating the issue of modern slavery is a passion of mine, and fighting for freedom has been a part of my family for generations. Risking his life alongside Gandhi during India’s assertion for independence, my grandfather was once a freedom fighter. Within a conservative community, he risked grave danger against himself and his family, defying social expectations to fight for what he believed in.
Mahatma Gandhi said it best: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” I look up to my grandfather and the many other leaders in my life who have influenced me, remembering it only takes one person to change the world and hope I can make a difference.