Why I Started Tofu

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“….And one day she gives up on you and me, because we have no options for her. And therefore she starts normalizing this exploitation. She believes, "Yes, this is it, this is what my destiny is about." And this is normal, to get raped by 100 men a day. And it's abnormal to live in a shelter. It's abnormal to get rehabilitated.

…..

Many times when I talk to people, I keep telling them one thing: don't tell me hundred ways how you cannot respond to this problem. Can you ply your mind for that one way that you can respond to the problem?

These are snippets from a Ted Talk by Sunitha Krishnan and these very words stirred my soul.

 

When I was 18, like most socially conscious rebellious teenagers, I had this naive urge to change the world. I aspired to become the Prime Minister and single-handedly rid India of all its evils, in my very first term. After all, nothing is impossible, right?

As my prefrontal cortex continued developing, I started getting more interested in social issues in particular and joined non-profits to understand issues around the world. I developed a particular interest in human rights issues concerning minority rights and women’s empowerment. It was then that I stumbled upon a Ted Talk by Sunitha Krishnan on sex trafficking. I was shocked. Yes, I had vaguely heard about trafficking but had no idea how cruel it is. 

I re-watched the video, played, replayed and kept going through it - over and over again. I started reading articles and books on the issue, and watched numerous documentaries detailing the plight of these women and then decided something had to be done. In my mind, sex trafficking was an exceptionally evil crime and I simply had to do something to fight it.

Out of this passion, was born Threads of Freedom (Tofu’s parent organization) to help reintegrate victims of trafficking. Reintegration was a challenge that every rescue organization faced and I believed that I could use market forces to come up with a viable solution.

So one fine day, I left my cushy job in the US, moved to Mumbai and set up ToF. It’s been a wild ride ever since, but one that has been super exciting and given me immense satisfaction. We’ve been able to come up with an effective market solution to reintegrate victims of trafficking and all our partners, especially rescue organizations, are extremely bullish on our ability to reintegrate more and more survivors of trafficking.

 

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