June 23rd, 2011
10:58 AM ET

She was a modern-day slave in the U.S. at 9

She was brought to the United States at the age of 9. She was forced into servitude and she was abused. Evelyn Chumbow was 17 years old before she was actually able to escape her captors. She is now 25 and a college student.

Evelyn shares with CNN's Kiran Chetry what it was like at the beginning, her eventual escape and how she feels about her captor now.

CHETRY: Tell us a little bit about how you first came to the United States. You were promised an education, a place to stay, a better situation than the one that you had. And what ended up happening?

CHUMBOW: Like you said, modern-day slavery. I was promised a better education. I came here at the age of nine. I was forced to take care of two kids, cleaning and cooking, no schooling, and not even being able to get in contact with my parents or any of my family members.

I had no knowledge of the outside world, except the one I was living in. Getting up in the morning, cleaning and cooking, taking care of two kids, changing diapers.

CHETRY: No, I mean, it was unbelievable what you described that you were abuse - that the person, who is holding you who is now in trouble by the way, who is now serving a jail sentence for what happened.

Did you know? Was there an evolution, meaning you came here and they were nice at first and then turned on you, or was it from the moment you came here, you realized this is not what you thought you were getting into?

CHUMBOW: Ok, the first couple of - the first couple of weeks, I stay with her, of course. I was 9 years old. She was nice but then, of course I got into just to the life that I never knew, which was trafficking and I just start working and cleaning and, of course, the abuse started because I wasn't doing my work right.

I had to get up like 5:00 a.m. in the morning. I had to take care of the kids, change the diapers, cook, clean, clean the house, make sure to go to day care on time and I also had to wash some of my trafficker's clothes.

I didn't - I didn't exactly know any of those things. I didn't know how to cook or clean because I was 9 years old.

... And I - I assume, I was promised an education and I thought I was going to go to school right away.

CHETRY: Right and you said that at one point for three weeks you didn't get to eat anything as punishment, that you were not given a bed, that you were meant - left to slept in a cold garage.


CHETRY: And this went on for years. What - explain why you were unable to let anybody know what was happening to you?

CHUMBOW: Because I didn't know anyone and the only person I knew was my trafficker and her family and I didn't know anything of the outside world. I didn't know about social services. I didn't know about if you're in that type of situation, you can even call 911, because I was not allowed to use the phone. I didn't even know how to use a phone at that time.

CHETRY: How did you eventually get - make your way to - to freedom at the age of 17?

CHUMBOW: I ran away from her earlier and I was - I was staying on the street. I stayed with a - with a person I now call my auntie. I stayed with her for a while.

And from there, I went to church and I told the priest my situation and how I have not seen my parents since I got here and I have never been to the hospital. I have no education except the one I had in Cameroon at the age of 9 years old and my - I would like to go to school and I would like to go see the doctor and of course, I will definitely would like to go reunite with my parents.

And from there, the priest had a couple of organizations that contacted me and one of the organization was IUDER and I met with a woman, Melanie Earhart which is now like a second mother to me that heard my story and got help and try to get me into foster care before I would turn 18.

CHETRY: Wow. Well, thank God you had those angels looking out for you. But it's so upsetting that you had to suffer for so long.

This woman who did this to you, your captor, Theresa Moombang was sentenced to more than 17 years in prison and she was sentenced for involuntary servitude, for harboring a juvenile for financial gain. Do you think that she got what she deserved?

CHUMBOW: I can't really say that she got what she deserved. She did - she did the crime so she is paying for it. Like I say, when it comes to that type of situation, I just think about the kids and the kids that she has which are my biggest concern because they have a mother that is in prison and when - in situation like this, you always have to think about the children.

Me as a child not being able to see my parents - for 18 years, I know how hard it can be not having your parents around. And those are things that I cry about every day - and not to be able to have that connection with my parents.

So if you do a crime, you have to pay for it. And knowing that it was enslavement, knowing I came here illegally; she did all of that and she's paying for what she did.

Topics: Life In Slavery

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