Recovering Sight: Athian’s Story

  • Age
  • Muslim/ Arab Name
  • Enslaved Since
  • Date Freed

“What color are my pants?” “How many people are standing behind us?” “What is John wearing with his shirt?”

Sixteen-year-old Athian answers the questions eagerly and
happily, laughing with excitement.  It’s
an enormous achievement.  Just a few
months ago, Athian was almost totally blind.

“I still remember seeing things,” Athian told the CSI team
when we first met him.

CSI was able to secure Athian’s freedom from slavery in
early 2013.  The way he tells it, his family
fled to North Sudan to escape the war. (In the 1980s and 90s, thousands of
Christians and black Africans fled similarly in the face of the famine and devastation wrought in South Sudan by the Islamist central government’s
genocidal jihad against non-Muslims.) Facing destitution in the North,
Athian’s parents sent him to work for an Arab family.  

In North Sudan’s toxic racist and Muslim supremacist
culture, the relationship quickly turned into slavery. Athian was forced to take an Arab name,
“Ibrahim,” and was abused by his master’s children.

Then came the blinding.

“The master’s son didn’t like me,” Athian says. “I still
remember his voice.” In an act of almost unthinkable malice, the master’s son
shoved needles into Athian’s eyes, rendering him virtually sightless.

After he was freed, CSI first placed him in the home of one
of our local staff, along with several other wounded or vulnerable former slave
children. Eventually, we took him to
Nairobi, Kenya, where doctors were able to successfully operated on his
left eye, restoring much of his vision.

Athian is still adjusting to the new reality of his sight.  Shown photos of the children he lived with in
South Sudan after his liberation, he stares transfixed at the friends he knows
so well, but was never able to see.
Before he lets the CSI team take his own photo, he insists on changing
into the new clothes he has purchased since the operation. Now that he can see
himself, he wants to look his best.

Bigger challenges await.
Now he will have the chance to learn to read, and get a basic
education.  And after that? “I want to
live in South Sudan again, and learn many things and become a businessman and
run my own shop.”

Thousands of South Sudanese people are still enslaved in North Sudan. You can help us bring them home. Donate at or learn more at

Watch Athian demonstrate his new sight: