CAPITOL HILL -- It's hard to imagine, but more slaves exist today than at any other point in history. As one North African teen knows all too well, one of the worst offenders is the nation of Sudan.
Sitting behind a microphone on Capitol Hill, 18-year-old Ker Aleu Deng was all smiles. But it wasn't long ago when he had little, if anything, to smile about.
He was a young boy when Arab raiders ransacked his village, killed the men, and bound Dang and his mother to a camel.
They were then dragged away from their home in southern Sudan to a life of slavery.
To Deng's owner, his name was synonymous with his job: Cattle Keeper.
"They let me sleep with goats," Dang told CBN News.
He'd sleep outside with his legs tied to his owner's goats just to make sure he'd wake up if one tried to get away.
Drunk and abusive, his slave master often beat him. Once, as punishment, he had chili peppers rubbed into his eyes, causing him to go blind.
On Tuesday, Deng told his story to lawmakers in Washington, D.C., saying his years in slavery still haunt him now.
"Every single day it plays in my head," the teen testified before the House Foreign Affairs Sub-Committee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights.
Experts say there's really no concrete estimate on the number of slaves in Sudan. They blame the absence of data on a lack of concern in the international community.
The whole purpose behind Tuesday's hearing was to raise awareness of Sudanese slavery among Congress and the American public, using stories like Deng's and the countless others like him.
"CSI will continue to focus on this problem until the last slave is free," vowed John Eibner, CEO of Christian Solidarity International.
CSI rescued Deng and brought him to the United States, where doctors recently operated on his eyes. It's unclear how much of his sight he may regain.
For now, Deng is focused on his mother and many others who are still in slavery. He wants America to help free them.
His rescuers say slavery in Sudan isn't only about physical and political freedom but about religious liberty.
"The offspring of those women who are enslaved when they're raped by their masters or their master's sons will become Muslim. They have no choice," Eibner explained.
Deng, who once was forced to cite daily Muslim prayers as a slave, now proudly identifies by his new faith.
"Now you're a Christian?" CBN News' John Jessup asked the teen.
"Yeah," he replied. "I'm a Christian."
Deng says he now has hope, and his goal is to be like his rescuers and set other Sudanese captives free.