My Sister's Keeper

" Genocide is wiping out your culture. That in itself is genocide. Everybody who has a voice is part of it "

--Sarah Rial

Pastor Gloria White-Hammond was first introduced to the conflict in Darfur by news anchor and long-time friend, Liz Walker. Since then, she has visited Sudan seven times to help purchase the freedom of more than ten-thousand slaves. Because many of the slaves had been separated from family members and had no homes to return to, the question arose of how to protect their safety. White-Hammond addressed this issue by establishing My Sister's Keeper, a non-profit organization, which aids Sudanese women in business, health, and education development. An early project saw the building of two grinding mills for the women of Akon and Panliet. The profit that the women made grinding maize and sorghum was put forth for a literacy program and a school for girls.

My Sister's Keeper also plays an important role in an "underground railroad" to help return freed slaves to their homes. Girls and women of the south have led especially difficult lives throughout the genocide because their husbands and sons are often killed or leave home to join the resistance. They are left to do the difficult manual labor in their villages. The UN also has offered support to the program in the form of humanitarian aid. The World Food Program lends aid to the villagers. My Sister's Keeper has also visited schools and churches in Boston to speak about the program and promote awareness.

Often, enslaved women and girls are raped by their captors as well as their masters, putting them at a high risk for diseases such as AIDS. Pastor White-Hammond has also stressed the importance of HIV/AIDS prevention. In 2001, My Sister's Keeper brought Sudanese doctor Luka Deng to Beth Israel Deaconess in hopes that women suffering from the disease will have a chance to learn more about prevention. In addition to damaged health, these women also face being shunned by their families and communities because Islamic law condemns the rapist as well as the victim. Although there is still much work to be done to end the genocide, Melinda Weekes, a member of My Sister's Keeper, expresses that "[we] cannot lose hope while people are resilient."