These are some of the individuals we have retrieved from slavery or encountered in our fieldwork overseas due to the generosity of our compassionate sponsors and donors.
Madut Yok Yai
Interviewed in Northern Baragazal Sudan, in December 1999 following his last three years of enslavement in Darfur. We asked this nine year old about his mother, and the there was a silence, “The mother is dead” someone said. Madut pulled leaves from the foliage and told us that one time he lost a goat and was severely beaten. Madut doesn’t understand that we’ve spent $50 dollars for his freedom, or what is happening and he becomes emotional when they ask who is mother is? A woman in the group says she has been taking care of him and confirms to him that it is okay for him to tell us what happened to him. Madut starts to cry, and human rights activist Sharon Payt comforted him and dried his tears, telling him that its okay, and that he will lead a good life. Over the years when I fly back to Northern Baragazal I have asked about Madut, but the only thing I heard was that he stayed with the woman who was taking care of him and traveled further south away from the raiding militias.
Nata was a young Vietnamese girl age 14 when we found her in a brothel in Siem Reap, Cambodia in November 2004. We heard her whole story that night, how her mother had sold her from Vietnam to pay for her grandmothers surgery, and she was brought here to work off her debt. We offered the $1200 dollars to the owner of the brothel and she told us to come back. We went back the next day with our colleagues but the woman refused to let Nata go. We put 333 on the list of clubs to be raided by the police, but we never found out what happened to her specifically. We know that those who were retrieved from that round were later abducted and resold into the market, so we always wondered what ever happened to Nata and found ourselves continually looking for her, while we were on slave retrieval missions in Cambodia.
Young Mohammad’s mother was taken in a slave raid on southern Sudan by the marauding Janjaweed and Murahaleen. He was born of an Arab father, his master. But during the Darfur genocie, his mother was killed and he was forced to flee alone to the south where he was purchased by the Murahaleen. We found Mohammad on the border of Darfur in Northern Braghazal, Sudan and arranged for his redemption through the peace committees established through the local tribal leadership. We arranged for his transportation south to be united with Pastor Tito and the CSI team in Malwalkan. The last time we saw Mohammad, he was carrying his survival kit back to his hut, and waving goodbye as we boarded the airplane to begin the long journey home.
Pastor Kerry Decker, the director Rapha House shelter where Jonty had been living for several years notified me that my Jonty died on Sunday the 14th of September, 2008 from drug complications. She was 13 when I found her enslaved in a brothel in Cambodia. Pastor Dear Sorum retrieved her and a group of other girls because we were able to find Jonty, and then Stephanie Freed, Pastor Kerry Decker and the folks at Rapha House supported her through a high school education at the Rapha House shelter. Why Jonty decided to scale the wall that night and go back to the life of Methamphetamine and alcohol I don’t know? She ran away and didn’t graduate with the other girls. Her sister, Jonny graduated, and I went to hand her and the other girls their diplomas. We had to go get Jonty a second time and bring her back for the ceremony. The last thing she said to me is “Can I have fifty dollars.” I gave her the money and kissed her goodbye. She had contacted me just a month earlier asking for more money and I was prepared to send her more money in exchange for a written account of her life story. Apparently under mysterious circumstances her father took her back to Vietnam (I believe to make up for the past), and she ended up there in the hospital where she died from the damage the drugs, emotional abandonment, and human trafficking had done to her body. I’ve been so sad since finding out Jonty died. Here’s the correspondence from Pastor Kerry, the director at the shelter in Cambodia:
Hi [Abolish Slavery],
I see that Stephanie sent you an email with the details of Jonty’s death. This is such a sad situation, and I’m sorry that there was no way to break the news to you gently. I did try to call you the other day and give you a heads up that she was in the hospital in Vietnam. But we were unable to connect. I didn’t think that it would be fitting to leave this information on your voicemail. Forgive me, if you would have preferred otherwise. Obviously, I did not expect her to so quickly slip away. Her death even caught me by surprise. While you now have the best information about this situation, I realize that this may be of little solace I’m available to talk, if you want. Let me know.I’ve been praying for Jonty’s family and friends that God will grant them His comfort and peace. And I’ve been praying for you. I had the chance to pray with Stephanie about this today. And tonight the guys in my grief recovery group took some time to bring this before the Lord. Thank you for your love for Jonty. I know that you meant a lot to her. You were a great blessing to her and her family. You showed her true compassion and genuine acceptance when so many others offered her much less. Thank you for your efforts on behalf of trafficked girls. May God be with you and grant you His peace.
Yinabei was sold by her uncle after her father died, and she was trafficking to Ecuador and then to Japan were a client fell in love with her and paid off her debt. She returned to South America only to be trafficked again into a brothel in Quito, Ecuador by the cocaine mafia. Quito is where I found her while on assignment there. Thank G-d, we were able to get her out that place. After leaving the brothel at 17 and pegnant, Yinabei got married had her baby (asked me to be the Godfather) and became a beautician, but she struggles still to make ends meet for her and her baby girl, Alison.
What happened to Ayer is the worst thing you could imagine. She told me that the men came around 3:30 in the afternoon. Some came on the horse, she said. “After we see the horse the cars follow after the horse.” There were five cars, and mother said, “They are coming.” There is a very terrible condition after the attack…she tells me, “my mother having been killed by one of the men,” she said one of the men that just killed her mother turned to her and said. “We killed the mother, maybe its not good to kill the daughter, why don’t we go and take her as a wife.” The Janjaweed soldiers fought over who would be first to rape her. Another man, said, “now it is me who shall take her.”
“If you don’t like it I can kill you.” He told her before ravaging her next.
“So you can accept it from there.” Another said.
Ayera survived the journey to the north in Darfur was purchased by a Murahaleen nomad and transited to this waiting area in Northern Baraghazal where I interviewed her before she went to live with her tribe in Dinka land. Today after being freed from slavery she is married, has children, and is living in southern Sudan.
What happened to her family is that her older brother and older sister were killed in the attack by the Janjaweed. Her mother in 2000 was still enslaved in the north, and she was taken as a domestic servant and third wife. Abuk is clearly damaged from years of abuse she suffered in Darfur and says she was forcibly circumcised and converted to Islam. Her captors beat her and broke her body, but they could not break her spirit. Abuk was taken to a Dinka tribal chief and raised with a local family. We haven’t seen or heard from Abuk, since we interviewed her that day in Sudan, but we imagine her life in the south in freedom is much better than the oppression she endured in Darfur.
Larisa was trafficked from Moldova to Moscow to Cairo, and then to Israel where she was forced to have sex with men day and night. She had originally gone to Egypt on a tourist visa, but had her passport, money, and possessions seized by the Russian Mafia who turned the victims over to the Sema Dana Bedouins who transited them across the Sinai desert into Israel. Living in Netanya, Larisa lived a grim existence, until a phone tip lead to her being retrieved by the local police. At the time of our interview with her, Larisa was waiting to testify against the trafficker who enslaved her. Once her case went to trial, Larisa planned to return home to Moldova to take care of an ill family member and start her life over.
Thuy Lai was a young girl living in Kampochea only eight years old.
Her mixed Vietnamese and Cambodia heritage was seen as an asset to human traffickers who prey on little Vietnamese girls. As age 8, Thuy was the youngest madam we had encountered. An undercover Vietnamese field agent took this picture of Thuy. At the time she was being enrolled into Vietnamese girls schools, where she would encourage other young girls to run away with her to Cambodia for a better life. Who knows how many young children young Thuy lured into the sex trade, but the reality of her life was hearbreaking. We made efforts to find out what happened to Thuy in 2007 but were told that she “disappeared.”
This young slave boy is only 10 years old and seems at first to be a quiet and sullen boy.
He was taken from his village in Ayen at age 6 and was taken to slavery in north for 4 years in the city of Setef. “Well,” the translator said. “He is saying that there were six or seven slaves with him that were trying to escape and they were all beaten and they were being killed right in front of them. He is saying that the raiders raped the women a lot on the way. “Yes many times. I know all of their names even.” He said. The translator hands the boy something to eat and says, “He is saying that he doesn’t have a bed to sleep on or a blanket. When the work is finished at night he goes to the stable and sleeps next the cows to stay warm. He was not free.”
Then Atem said I am very happy today and thank those of CSI who had come to redeemed us here, and I thank those who paid the money to free me from slavery,”
He tried to hold back the tears… And he said he is very happy today,
“even though I have no food to eat, I am very happy because I can go today feeling as someone in freedom”