In 2012, a New York woman shopping for shoes found a disturbing note in her Saks Fifth Avenue bag. Someone claiming to be a worker imprisoned in a Chinese factory told a story of 13-hour days and being treated "like slaves," pleading for "HELP HELP HELP." Now the man behind that letter has been found.
Tohnain Emmanuel Njong, a Cameroonian national, told DNAinfo he ended up in the factory after authorities in Qingdao, in eastern China, sentenced him to three years on bogus fraud charges.
During his time in the factory, Njong assembled paper shopping bags, electronics, and garments. He was required to meet a production quota each day, and used the pen he was given to record his numbers to secretly write requests for help.
Njong is now free and living in Dubai after being released early for good behavior. He said he wrote 5 letters, some in French, but the one that made its way into Stephanie Wilson's Saks bag was the only one found.
Prior to his conviction, Njong served 10 months in a detention camp, awaiting help from a legal aid lawyer. The lawyer, who represented Njong at trial, confirmed the former prisoner's story to DNAinfo.
Njong was unable to contact his family during the entire ordeal, and they were shocked when he returned home alive, so he was understandably surprised to learn anyone had received his message.
"It was the biggest surprise of my life," he said. "I am just happy that someone heard my cry."