Escaped Chibok Students: ‘We Are Praying Peace Will Take Over’—The Washington Post

Blessing, Mary, Helen and Rachel are among the Chibok students who escaped from Boko Haram in 2014. They are now getting an education at the American University of Nigeria in Yola, (AUN)

Blessing, 17, Rachel, 17, Mary, 18, and Helen, 18, are students with an extraordinary story.

They were among the nearly 300 schoolgirls who were kidnapped from their secondary school in Chibok in the northeastern Nigerian state of Borno in April 2014. Along with 54 other students, they managed to escape from Boko Haram.

Last Tuesday, I had the opportunity to travel to the American University of Nigeria in Yola, Adamawa state, about a four-hour drive from Chibok, where I was able to briefly meet with them in the school’s well-stocked library.

Twenty-three of the Chibok students who escaped are on scholarship, attending a special secondary school program at AUN, in the hopes that they will be prepared for a university education.

They were fairly shy at first when I walked in. But as the conversation went on, they became animated as we talked about their dreams, their favorite movies and their favorite things to do when they aren’t studying.

The most talkative one, Blessing, dressed in a red T-shirt, gold earrings and straightened hair pulled back into a ponytail, described herself as “simple in nature.” “I like sports like volleyball, basketball, swimming and aerobics. I like reading storybooks and studying my school lessons.”

Like many teenagers around the world, she added, “What I hate most in my life is waking up early in the morning.” Blessing enthusiastically said she wants to be an accountant.

“In Chibok we don’t have banks there, so our people have to travel out before they send money to people. So I guess I would put a bank in Chibok.”

Rachel, who described herself as “active and someone who likes to help others,” said that her ambition is to become a pilot and that she hopes to inspire other women to do the same.

Helen told me she wanted to be a barrister (lawyer). All of them, without a hint of hesitation, said that they wanted to return home to help Chibok.

Of course, they are the lucky ones, living what we would say is a normal high school life. They now have access to cellphones and tablets, provided by the high-tech university.

They were taught how to use laptops. They are on Facebook and use it to communicate with friends.

While last year’s viral hashtags of #BringBackOurGirls and #Chibokgirls evoked an image of young girls, the truth is, these girls are quickly evolving into young women.

I also couldn’t help but be struck by the fact that sitting in front of me were these sweet, shy teenagers whose horrible kidnapping by Boko Haram shocked the world into collective outrage against the murderous Islamist militants who have slaughtered tens of thousands of people since 2009.

The hashtags were also part of a global campaign to pressure then-President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration to bring the kidnapped girls back from the clutches of Boko Haram.

To this day, 219 of the girls are still missing. Current president Muhammadu Buhari has said that the Nigerian government is willing to negotiate with Boko Haram to get the rest of girls back.

The United States recently pledged up to $45 million to the regional fight against Boko Haram and announced the deployment of 300 troops to the Cameroon border to assist with intelligence-gathering. Would all this have come to pass if the Chibok kidnappings hadn’t happened?

Beyond Chibok, Amnesty International estimates that Boko Haram has captured nearly 2,000 women and girls across Nigeria since 2014.

Increasingly, Boko Haram, which has been degraded by an increased offensive by regional forces, has been using female suicide bombers to carry out deadly attacks in Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon, leading to fears that kidnapped girls and wom.

Source: The Nigerian Voice / Tom Garba, Yola
Share on Google Plus

About Naijadopest

    Blogger Comment
    Facebook Comment


Post a Comment

Disclaimer: Do not use this forum as a channel to promote hatred, tribalism or any other kind of personal grievances. The administration can delete or edit a post that violates these guidelines. Keep the posts relevant to the topic in an attempt to keep the forum organised and maintain the focus on each topic. Thank you for your understanding.