“I thank the people from the USA who helped me get back to South Sudan”

Three hundred men and women who were held in slavery in Sudan have returned home to South Sudan in the latest retrieval operation organized by CSI.

Project manager Franco Majok oversaw the liberation of slaves that took place on August 15 and 16.

The former slaves, who had all endured years of forced labor and ill-treatment in Sudan, were overjoyed to be back among their own people again.

But there was also sadness for those mothers like Nyanlong Ugang Your who had to leave their children behind in Sudan.

“I thank the people from the USA and Europe who helped me to get back to South Sudan. I will start a new life now I am free,” said 37-year-old Ahok Deng Tong, who has spent the past 31 years as a slave after being abducted with her mother at the age of six.

Long walk to freedom

Ahok described how she was at the local market shopping for her Arab master’s wife when she met with the slave retriever: “We walked with him to South Sudan on foot. It was not an easy walk. We walked through thick forests to avoid being seen by the Arabs.”

The 300 freed slaves returned to villages in Aweil North and Aweil East counties close to the border with Sudan. For those among the group who were born into slavery, such as 27-year-old Aher Aher Arol, it was the first time they had set eyes on their home village.

On arrival, they all received survival kits, 25 kg of sorghum and a goat. Some required medical treatment for malaria and other diseases. All the returnees received instruction on how to protect themselves against Covid-19.

So far this year CSI has freed 900 Dinka people from slavery in Sudan. By the end of the year, with your help, that total should rise to 1,500.