Human trafficking survivor sparks awareness at CSUF

In Lifestyle, Top Stories
Keynote speaker Shari-Feng Ho wears Taiwanese clothing as she stands in the middle of the stage.

After being deprived of her freedom for 20 years, Shari-Feng Ho has dedicated herself to fighting human trafficking, using her story to foster hope among victims and inspire others to speak up.

In her two books, “My Name Is Also Freedom” and “Finding Freedom Was Just The Beginning,” Ho writes about her history and experience as a human trafficking survivor who was enslaved at the age of seven by her father and remained a victim for 20 years afterwards.

Since being rescued in 2005, Ho said she has made it her goal to help human trafficking victims like herself. As part of her mission to help other victims, Ho spoke at the “Freedom Has a Name” event at Cal State Fullerton on Jan. 19 in the Meng Concert Hall.

She encouraged others to help those who may need it, instead of shrugging it off as “this is none of my business.”

Sherry Ward, co-author of Ho’s second book “Finding Freedom Was Just The Beginning,” and CEO of Square Tree Publishing, organized the event’s proceedings filled with music, dance and a variety of vendors supporting the cause.

Ward co-authored Ho’s book because she said it inspires hope but, more importantly, because it is the push the world needs to take an offensive stance against human trafficking.

“It takes the artist and the visionary together to spread the word about trafficking and make a lasting impact,” Ward said.

Later in her speech, Ward also praised Ho for the role she’s played in the fight against trafficking.

“She has lightened the way for others to take action against human trafficking and she is taking a step forward,” Ward said.

In her first book, “My Name Is Also Freedom,” co-authored by Melodie Fox, Ho tells her story as a victim and survivor of human trafficking, mentioning the importance of the different names she took on throughout her journey.

While she was being held captive, Ho said she went by a different name while enduring years of abuse by her captor.

“This book isn’t just for me,” Ho said. “It is for a lot of human trafficking survivors.”

In the making of “My Name is Also Freedom,” Fox said she struggled to capture Ho’s voice, a girl who didn’t have the opportunity to go to school because she was held captive as a slave.

The result was a trip back to Taiwan in January 2018 where Fox was able to put herself in Ho’s shoes but also observe Ho as she confronted the monsters of her past.

“I remember when I was in Taiwan, feeling the weight of her story, I felt overwhelmed at one point and I even cried,” Fox said, on her fear of being unable to write a book that did Ho’s story justice.

However, with determination to share Ho’s struggle and conquest with the world, Fox worked on the novel for nine months after the trip.

“You feel something stir inside of you, a strength to never look the other way when you suspect someone is a victim of human trafficking,” Fox said about the emotions she hopes others will feel after reading the book.

The one message that has been repeated by those who have rescued Ho, told her story and been with Ho through her recovery and growth, is to speak up and help.

“Please everyone, just trust your gut and help all the survivors,” Ho said.

Call 1(888) 373-7888 or text 233733 to report any suspicious activity related to human trafficking.

“I hope you are changed by this story. It’s not just a story, it’s someone’s life. It’s Shari Ho’s life,” Fox said.

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