6,000 Slaves Freed in Sudan, Says Group

Rescued by Christian Solidarity International

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ROME, APRIL 22, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Just weeks after completing a daring slave redemption mission, Christian Solidarity International (CSI) returned to Sudan on April 6 for a follow-up trip.

During this trip, CSI´s network of Arab retrievers, who risk their lives to rescue African women and children, facilitated the redemption of nearly 3,000 slaves. An additional 3,000 slaves were voluntarily freed by their masters, as part of a CSI-brokered peace deal between Arab and African tribes.

«There were lots of times I felt overwhelmed,» said Gloria White Hammond, a minister at Bethel AME Church in Boston, upon her return. «But I was so inspired by these people who, despite what has happened to them, have a love for life and want to rebuild their communities.»

While in Sudan, Hammond, who is also a pediatrician, gave medical care to slaves disfigured by abusive owners.

Tommy Calvert, a senior at Tufts University, described meeting an 11-year-old boy whose nose had been chopped off for losing a cow, a boy who was beaten so badly his permanently deformed back is beginning to block his lungs, and dozens of teen-age girls who had been gang-raped and mutilated.

«I met with victims of some of the worst atrocities in the world,» he noted.

In 1999, Calvert launched a student-led divestment campaign, calling on mutual and pension funds to divest from Talisman Energy, a Canadian oil giant whose partnership with the Sudanese government is fueling slave raids and genocide. In response to a Calvert-organized protest, the professors´ pension fund TIAA-CREF divested from Talisman.

On April 11, Calvert was able to see oil-field destruction firsthand, as the CSI team redeemed 700 slaves in the oil-region of Western Upper Nile.

«In response to our divestment protests, Talisman would always claim life was fine around their rigs,» Calvert remarked. «But I just met with hundreds of women and children who would beg to differ.»

Hammond, whose previous trip to Sudan in July was featured on American television´s «Today Show,» plans to return a third time with a delegation of female leaders to form partnerships with Sudanese women.

«I go to Sudan as a minister, a physician, an activist, and a mother,» Hammond said. «We have to explore further the physical and psychological trauma suffered by enslaved women, as well as the process by which they are reabsorbed into their communities when they return home.»

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