Tuesday, April 14, 2015

From A Nigerian Sister, An Open Letter To The Kidnapped Chibok Girls, A Year Later

By Mary Umeoguaju
Junior Reporter
Youth Journalism International

Anambra, Nigeria
April 14, 2015
My dear sisters,
How are you? Hope you are fine and in good health.
These questions seem to be insignificant to ask of my sisters who have been missing in Chibok since 14th of April 2014, but I still think we need to ask them.
It's been a year and I haven’t heard from you and neither have my fellow Nigerians.
It is unfortunate. I've never had any personal contact with any of you, but I feel so concerned and worried because you are part of humanity, because you are Nigerians, because you are my sisters.
It's troubling to see girls who want to acquire excellent education kidnapped in their school.
Today marks one year since you were abducted from your school by the Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram. It's maddening to know that these terrorists believe that girls should be at home and not in schools.
Now, when we read newspapers or magazines, or watch and listen to our television channels and radios, we think of nothing but abandoned homes, disintegrated families, bloodletting and the displacement of residents who once had comfortable homes.
We're all affected by your abduction, and we think of you as days tumble into months.
Beyond the shores of Nigeria, you're remembered by powerful countries and people. You still, and will always, remain important to all of us. To your parents, you're beloved daughters. To your siblings, you're wonderful sisters. To friends, you remain excellent companions.
To your teachers, you are students and to elders, young children. To society, you are youth and to our nation, students with a bright future.
But to me, you are my sisters, my friends, my loved ones.
Your abduction still hits us like an earthquake, and without communication, hope that all is well has been shattered.
Rumors that you’ve been used as objects for sexual gratification and taken as “wives” shudder us into numbness. I try to imagine your pains, fears and hopes, but not without my heart tearing apart.
We'll continue to pray for you and our military. We will never give up. We’ll remain entombed in shock and outrage until you return to us.
Our government has been criticized and a widespread dissatisfaction continues to boil, all because you are yet to be found.
In his memoir The Audacity of Hope, U.S. President Barack Obama talks about empathy as something that is "not simply ... a call to sympathy or charity, but as something more demanding; a call to stand in somebody else's shoes and see through their eyes."
When I did that, I was in tears. I couldn't withstand all the horrifying scenes trickling into my mind's eye.
No, I can't survive such thoughts.
In your absence, a presidential election was conducted and incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan accepted defeat. Our incoming leader, General  Muhammadu Buhari, a retired army general who ruled Nigeria from 1984-1985, has promised to crush those heartless insurgents.
We really miss you. We praise your bravery and courage – those who fought and are still moving, those who escaped and all who tried to do so and ended up dead or caught.
As we mark your anniversary, I can only pray and hope that you'll return to us alive.
Warm regards,

Mary
Links to more news and opinion pieces from Youth Journalism International students about the kidnapped girls:

News: Nigerians Mark A Year Since Boko Haram Terrorists Kidnapped Chibok Schoolgirls, April 14, 2015

Analysis: Schoolgirls Still Missing A Year Later, April 14, 2015:

Perspective: We Must Cry, Until The Missing Girls Return, April 14, 2015

Perspective: One Year After Their Kidnapping, The Missing Chibok Girls Are Not Forgotten, April 14, 2014

News: Missing Nigerian Girls Not Forgotten; Students Renew Calls For Their Rescue, October 14, 2014

Perspective: Missing Nigerian Girls ‘Should Not Be Traded Off Like Cheap Materials In The Market’ April 30, 2014

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