As a young adult, Elizabeth Ranade-Janis did what many of us do. She took a trip.
"I had the opportunity to travel to India to visit my family and then a few months later to travel to Zambia and South Africa on a trip with my church to serve children impacted by the HIV/AIDS epidemic," says Elizabeth.
Traveling to impoverished areas opened her view of the world, and amplified her own abundance.
She came home, and changed her life.
She left her position as a legislative aide for the Ohio State House of Representatives and returned to graduate school. She studied public policy and international studies at Georgetown University, and, after finishing her grad degree, took a job at World Vision.
What she did next was amazing.
Elizabeth spearheaded World Vision's relief efforts when a massive earthquake in 2010 broke down Haiti's infrastructure. "We focused on clean water and transitional housing," she says. "It was a crazy few months in my life, but I am so honored I was able to be a part of it." She traveled between World Vision's headquarters in Washington DC and Port-au-Prince for months, until a cholera outbreak on the island became potentially dangerous for her pregnancy. In addition to leading their US-based Haitian relief efforts, she managed programs geared toward educating girls in Sub-Saharan Africa and fighting human-trafficking around the world.
While working at World Vision, Elizabeth also had a baby boy.
Elizabeth sees how becoming a mother has caused her to fight harder for those who have no voice. "When I hear about children whose bodies have been sold to pay for a parent’s drug habit, I have a visceral response. 'We just absolutely cannot let this happen,'" says Elizabeth.
So when Elizabeth was given the opportunity to return to her home state of Ohio and spearhead the governor's task force on human trafficking in the state, she took it. Elizabeth continues to fight for others, and her son gets the chance to live closer to his extended family. "Our son couldn’t be happier to be near grandparents, cousins, aunties, uncles, the whole bit. Having that kind of support network has been so helpful in every way."
These days, Elizabeth focuses her energy solely on human trafficking. As Anti-Trafficking Coordinator for the State of Ohio, she spends her days connecting grass roots organizations, raising public awareness, and ensuring that systems are in place to support law enforcement who are prosecuting these crimes. When asked how ordinary people can help fight human trafficking, she says, "In many ways you have more power than me. The best way to help is to just pay attention. Be a good mom, be a good neighbor. Ask questions about what your kids are doing online, and what their friends are doing." Simply noticing others accomplishes so much.
One trip inspired Elizabeth Ranade-Janis as a young adult. Because of that inspiration, she has devoted her life to blessing others.
If you suspect human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 888-3737-888 (not a typo-that's how the number is written so it's easy to remember). If someone is in immediate danger, call 911. To learn more about the signs and indicators of human trafficking, visit the Polaris Project's website at www.polarisproject.org For a great list of ways you can fight trafficking, visit the US Department of State's website at http://www.state.gov/j/tip/id/help/ If you would like to hear more about World Vision's world relief efforts, you can learn more at worldvision.org.
I am Stephanie - mom to four beautifully rambunctious little kids and wife to a guy who still makes me smile. If you have ever abandoned religion in search of faith, ever had to leave your hometown to find your home, or ever climbed to the very tip-top of a jungle gym to rescue an overzealous toddler, you may enjoy reading more at A Wide Mercy. You can also follow along on Facebook.