Fifth-Graders Help Free Slaves in Sudan

After learning about the United States history of slavery, Barbara Vogel’s fifth-grade class was horrified to learn that the practice of slavery is not confined to the past. Students read a news article written by Associated Press writer Karin Davis and learned that slavery is a modern-day reality in Sudan. Militias fighting in an ongoing civil war there have captured and sold civilians, claiming them as their living war prizes.

The students desperately wanted to take action to help Sudanese slaves and began saving money to buy their freedom. Media reports soon gave the students the publicity they needed to collect more. They have raised over $50,000 so far — enough to free at least 1,000 slaves.

The Swiss-based Christian Solidarity International sent emissaries to Sudan to purchase slaves earlier this month, and reported Friday that 1,050 slaves had been set free. CSI spokesperson Rob Lanning reported that the organization has freed over 5,000 former slaves since 1995.

Twelve-year-old Ashley Smith said that helping the Sudanese slaves has taught her a lot. “It makes me think about what I have and what they have. I shouldn’t always want, want, want. I should give more than I take,” she said.

Ashley’s classmates also found that helping wasn’t as difficult as it had originally seemed. Their teacher agreed, saying that it is “never too complicated to help another person.”


AP - January 28, 1999

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