Francis Bock´s Story: "I Was Giema´s Slave"

Tells of Liberation After Sudanese Ordeal

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BOSTON, Massachusetts, MAY 5, 2002 ( Francis Bock, a native of southern Sudan, now lives in Boston and fights slavery — by recounting his own story.

A member of the American Anti-Slavery Group, he is one of the many Sudanese who have been kidnapped from their villages by bands of northern militiamen and sold as slaves.

«My mother sent me to the market with kids from my village in southern Sudan to help sell eggs and beans,» he recalled. «It was the late afternoon. Then the militia soldiers attacked. I heard screaming all around me and saw people being shot. I was grabbed by a soldier and put in a basket on a donkey and taken north. All I could think was: Where is my mother?»

Once in the north, Bock was handed over to Giema Abdullah, a soldier.

«He brought me home to his family,» he said. «They all came out with sticks and started to beat me, the women and children too. This was my welcome.»

«I was Giema´s slave,» he continued. «He made me sleep outside with the animals, he beat me every morning, he fed me terrible food, and he made me watch over the cows. ´You are an animal,´ he told me.»

«For 10 years, I had nobody to laugh with. For 10 years, nobody loved me,» Bock recalled. «But after 10 years, I decided I would rather die than be a slave. So I ran off during the night, and eventually found the U.N. refugee office in Cairo.»

The United Nations helped Bock to settle in the United States, where he now works with the anti-slavery group.

«Every week, I speak at schools and churches, and on television, telling people my story — and reminding them that I am one of the lucky ones who escaped,» Bock added.

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