Adut Atak Deng from South Sudan was abducted as a seven-year-old girl and taken into slavery in the north where she lived in constant fear of her life. For more than 20 years she prayed that God would free her. Finally, on February 12 of this year Adut’s prayers were answered.
Adut, now a woman of 30, and her mother were on their way to visit relatives near the border with Sudan when they were ambushed by Islamist fighters and taken captive. Their attackers, working on behalf of the Sudanese government, beat Adut’s mother and bound her hands. Then they forced mother and daughter to march to northern Sudan.
Adut went as fast as she could so the men would not beat her too. “I was so afraid because the Arabs threatened to kill us if we didn’t march quickly enough”, she recalls.
Separated from her mother
Once they reached Sudan the little girl was separated from her mother and put to work for the family of Mohamed Ali. Despite her young age, Adut was expected to clean the house every day, wash dishes and collect firewood. Although she worked hard, she never earned the respect of the Arab family. “They scolded me constantly and called me a dirty black girl”, she recounts.
Worse was to come as Adut grew older and was subjected to frequent sexual assault at the hands of Mohamed’s son. A Christian, she was also forced to convert to Islam.
As time went on, Adut found it increasingly hard to cope with the abuse. “I prayed to God more and more to help me get home to South Sudan”, she says.
But it would be years before a Sudanese slave retriever, working on behalf of CSI, came across Adut at the market in Baram, where she was living as a slave.
“He asked me if I wanted to go to South Sudan”, she recalls. “I could hardly believe my ears. But I didn’t hesitate, I went with him”. Adut joined a group of freed slaves and they set off on the two-week trek to South Sudan. The walk home was full of dangers, and they often had to hide to avoid being caught by Sudanese militias.
Back home in her village in South Sudan, Adut thanks God that she is free. She is also grateful to CSI. “Thank you for helping me to escape from slavery”, she says. Equipped with a dairy goat, a sack of grain and a start-up kit from CSI, Adut is ready to embark on a new life full of promise.