365DaysOn the Chibok Girls are never to be forgotten.
It is 365 days today that the Chibok Girls were abducted. Exactly one year ago on 14th April 2014 276 Chibok School Girls were abducted from their school. I just cannot believe the fact that we actually allowed it to get to one year without the rescue of our #chibokGirls. How could we allow innocent children be taken away by terrorist group and do nothing. The #ChibokGirls ought not to have been taken in the first place. They were supposed to be protected to enjoy their Childhood and their innocence. We failed to protect them and also failed in the next best thing which would have been their immediate rescue. How can we live with ourselves? How do we live with our consciences? How do we face ourselves in the mirror knowing fully well that we abandoned 219 #ChibokGirls and left them with the terrorists.
What is the crime of #ChibokGirls? Is it because she is Nigerian? Is it because she is poor? Or is it because she dared to be educated? #ChibokGirls against all odds dared to be educated and on April 14th 2014 they paid for daring. A group of armed terrorists entered their school and abducted 276 of them from their school in Chibok. 57 of them escaped on their own and there are still 219 of them still with the abductors for a year today, and not a single one has been rescued. The armed terrorists group known as Boko Haram, literarily meaning that western education is forbidden, have vowed to get schools closed down and seem to be succeeding. For some children in the North Eastern States of Nigeria education has become truly forbidden as schools in some parts have been closed for over a year.
The #ChibokGirls were writing their Final year examination after which those who passed would be able to secure admission into University. A beacon of hope for their families. Schools had been closed down in neighbouring towns and a lot of parents sent their children to be able to complete their secondary school education in Chibok.
There had been series of attacks within some neighbouring villages and yet the #ChibokGirls went to school. Even those who were not boarders went to stay in school because there was electricity there and they wanted to have a place to read for their exams. Sheer determination to get an education which they knew would be their key to breaking the shackles of poverty. For the #ChibokGirl education meant everything. It was the path that could lead to an end to the vicious cycle of poverty. Like one of the #ChibokMothers said to us when we invited them to one of the Sit Outs we had, said her daughter had promised to go to school to get an education and wipe away her tears. The mother asked us; “If my daughter is in the hands of terrorist how she will wipe away my tears?
For most of these parents their children are everything, including a future source of livelihood. What makes the #ChibokGirls issue so saddening is that a lot of children, especially the Girl-Child from the region of Nigeria they come from, hardly ever go to school. They are the most educationally disadvantaged and it takes a lot to get them to school, especially the girls.
One of the #ChibokFathers put it this way: ‘The government fines us if we do not send our children to school. Now that our children have been abducted while in school who will fine the government?’ A #ChibokFather wept at the Unity Fountain in Abuja where we have the daily Sit Out to demand for the rescue of our #ChibokGirls when he told us the story of how his daughter was driven home because she had not paid 300 Naira (Less than 2 Dollars) for testimonial. He struggled for days to get the 300 Naira and when he was able to, he took her back to the school only for her to be abducted the very next day. I ask again! What is the crime of the #ChibokGirl? Is it because she is Nigerian? Is it because she is poor or is it because she dared to be educated?
If these are crimes many of us would be guilty. I grew up poor in an environment where education was not seen as important.
I went to school in the morning without breakfast and came back home without expecting lunch.By the time I was aged 11, I had no friends to play with because they were all married off. I was taunted and ridiculed and what kept me going was the thought that if I am able to get an education I would one day be able to ride a car and escape the life of poverty I was born into. At the age of 24 when I got married my friends were grandparents, and by the time I turned 40 they had become great grand parents.
Anytime I think of the fact that if I was taken when I was writing my exams my parents would have been unable to speak out for me because poverty had rendered them voiceless, and if nobody else stood for me where would I be today? Probably dead! With that in mind I can never give up on the #ChibokGirls because to give up on them is to give up on the who I was 24 years ago.
The #ChibokGirls with all the disadvantage they were born with decided that they would dare to take themselves out of the station that they were born into, and for daring to dream have been with abductors for a year. The world seems to have turned its back on the #ChibokGirls. The world seems to move on after the initial flurry of activity with the world saying #BringBackOur Girls. It was glamorous for people to hold the banner and say #BringBackOurGirls in the early days. People have moved on with their lives but for the #ChibokGirls and their families there is no moving on, not for a second for 365 days. Today it is exactly one year. My daughter has volunteered to be a #ChibokGirl Ambassador who would stand for the voiceless #ChibokGirls here in Abuja, and make demands that the government rescues the #ChibokGirls. This is what she had to say:
I see my parents every day and I feel guilty because 219 school girls haven’t seen their parents for one whole year. They live in fear of not knowing what is going to happen next whether they would live to see the next second, the next minute, the next hour, the next day. They have lost all hope especially in their country.
I feel sad that I live in a country, where 219 girls would be abducted and kept in captivity for 365 days and yet nothing is done, yet no attempt is made to rescue them, and everyone just moves on as if nothing ever happened. Why? They are kept in the hands of monsters that go around killing people and think they are practicing Islam, but Islam is a religion of peace not violence.
What if it were I that was abducted will everyone just move on and forget about me.
Bring Back Our Girls Now And Alive.
As long as the #ChibokGirls are left with abductors we have failed the children of the world especially the Girl-Child whom we tell is important and that she should dare to dream. Action, they say, speaks louder than words. The Girl-Child knows that it is all a lie because she can see the #ChibokGirls who dared and what happened to them.
By failing to rescue the #ChibokGirls we have failed children all over the world. We have allowed terror be what they go to school expecting could happen to them, and this is not how it should be.
Due to what has happened to the #ChibokGirls and many others in that region a lot of parents are refusing to send their children to school where they are still open, and some are saying they would not send their children even when schools are opened. No parents should be made to choose between sending a child to school or their safety.
Work needs to be done to ensure that parents do send their children to school, lest the terrorist will have succeeded with their ideology of western education being forbidden. We must remember injustice to one is injustice to all. Terrorist attack to one is terrorist attack to all. Terror attack to anyone anywhere in the world is terrorist attack to everyone everywhere in the world.
This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Aisha Yesufu in Nigeria. All images provided by Aisha Yesufu.