The Life of Gloria White-Hammond

Little is published about Gloria White-Hammond's early life, as a full analysis of the effects of early life on later works is never conducted until much closer to the end of a person's life (although Ms. White-Hammond describes herself as no longer "a spring chicken"). Nevertheless, even with what has happened so far in a life that no doubt will yield further triumph, one can clearly see the effects of White-Hammond's early life on her current and past missions. Growing up as the 3rd of 8 children, Gloria White-Hammond and her family moved around from Tennessee to Maine to Guam to New Hampshire to Indiana and, finally, to Boston, where she enrolled at Boston University, as a result of her father's military career. Her sexual abuse as a young child is one element recognized by Ms. White-Hammond herself as having a great effect on her desire to aid the Sudanese victims of not only slaughter but also sexual aggression. However, before this aid was to begin, White-Hammond first enrolled in a Biology program at Boston University, and later a residency which ended in 1982. Immediately following, she signed on with the South End Community Health Center, and has never left. She married Ray Hammond, a surgeon-in-training whom she met at school, in 1973, but at the end of their respective residencies, tragedy struck again. Having both worked so hard and gritted their teeth through the struggle of overlapping training, they had lost touch with one another on an emotional level. Ms. White-Hammond was at this point contemplating suicide. However, introducing another recurring theme in her life, she chose life, and work, and to this day attributes her survival to God's help.

God was to play other huge roles in her life, from her calling to the ministry (where she joined her husband as a pastor at Bethel AME Church in Boston's Jamaica Plain after graduating from Harvard Divinity School in 1997), to her calling to Sudan. At church, she struggles with overcoming her shy personality and dislike for public speaking; in Sudan, and as an advocate for the victims of the genocide there, she uses the success of this struggle to make huge strides towards justice. For the past 6 years, Ms. White-Hammond has been fighting against all manner of injustice in Sudan—from fighting the current genocide in Darfur, to fighting the enslavement of those displaced by the genocide, to aiding those recovering from the genocide and trying to pick up the pieces of their life, her toil has been endless and her strength infinite.

Her first visit to Sudan came in July 2001, when she was accompanied by Liz Walker, a newscaster and friend who has since worked closely with White-Hammond in both Boston and Sudan, as well as her husband and a few others, as a journey intended to introduce White-Hammond to the horrors of the Sudanese slave trade. Once there, she realized not only the physical difficulties of aid work in a third-world country, but the emotional struggles of having to hear tales of brutal violence told over and over by the victims. Nevertheless, realizing that, like the ministry, work in Sudan was not only an interest but an obligation, a calling, she has since returned to Sudan more than 6 times, helped to free more than 10,000 slaves, and founded My Sister's Keeper in 2002, a program which aims to help the women recovering from the genocide pick up the pieces of their previous lives. She is also a chairman of the Massachusetts Coalition for Darfur, and speaks often on the subject, in an attempt to raise both awareness and support.

White-Hammond's influence does not extend only to Africa. Long before she became involved with fighting the genocide, she formed a group as a byproduct of her work at the health clinic, where she was inspired to reach out to her adolescent patients who were engaging, or would likely later engage, in dangerous behavior. This creative expression program, Do the Write Thing, has since become an entity separate from her works, but still serves the same mission—Gloria White-Hammond's mission—to serve and to save without cease.