Evelyn Chumbow of Cameroon says she was only nine years old when she was trafficked into forced labor in the Washington, D.C. area.
Chumbow, who’s now in her mid-30s, says she was sold by her uncle to a woman from her home country of Cameroon who had a home and a business in the United States. She said she came to the United States with the expectation that a better life awaited her.
“The image that I had of the U.S. is completely from what I saw on television — you know, ‘(The) Cosby Show’ and ‘(The) Fresh Prince of Belair,’ ‘(Beverly Hills) 90210’ — and so when I was told that I was going to come to the U.S. and be adopted and get a better education, I was excited,” Chumbow said in an interview with Hill TV that aired Monday.
But she said that as soon as she arrived, she was forced into domestic labor, working for eight years before she was able to escape with the help of Catholic groups. She said her captor is now in prison.
The Republic of Cameroon is a country of some 23 million people wedged in West and Central Africa. Due to lack of policing and its neighboring countries of Nigeria and Chad, Cameroon has been a hotbed for trafficking crimes by gangs and terrorist groups.
In 2016, the Yaoundé-based Interpol office for Central African States reported that thousands of children, alongside men and women, were forcibly abducted in Cameroon, Chad, Central African Republic, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and the Republic of Congo to be used as combatants, cooks, guards, sex partners, servants, messengers, and spies.
As many as 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders each year, according to the U.S. State Department.
Human trafficking has become a rare bipartisan issue on Capitol Hill.
Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) warned during a September 26, 2018 congressional hearing that trafficking is taking place in the U.S.
“We all need to wake up because human trafficking is happening right here in our backyard, and victims of traffic crime are often hidden in plain sight,” said McSally, who’s running for Senate in Arizona this year.
Chumbow said she was held captive in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C.
“I came and I became a slave right here in Maryland, not far from the Capitol. I was working, cooking and cleaning,” Chumbow said, adding that she believes she would have been saved earlier if someone in the community had notified the authorities.
“‘If you see something, say something.’ Cause a lot of neighbors saw me; I would have probably been rescued when I was 13 or 14,” she said. “But nobody said anything.”
On January 24th at 12:30 pm, Evelyn Chumbow will be speaking in northeastern Pennsylvania. Misericordia University in Dallas, Pennsylvania is hosting Ms. Chumbow in Insalaco Hall, Rooms 218 and 219. The presentation will be approximately one hour.
For more information about this public event visit www.misericordia.edu/mlk or call the Mission Integration Office at 570-674-1877.
See the links below to a video and written pieces about Ms. Chumbow, who has become an activist fighting for the sake of modern slaves.
For Evelyn’s full story visit: https://thehill.com/hilltv/rising/410406-cameroon-woman-describes-her-forced-labor-ordealin-america
For more information on human trafficking in Cameroon visit:https://www.voanews.com/a/africa-cameroon-child-trafficking/4278961.html