Read What These Escaped Chibok Girls Are Praying For
By Didi Adams
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.