Escape from Boko Haram: Chibok Schoolgirls & Sarah’s Story

Posted: Oct 08, 2014 12:01 AM

“I jumped from the truck. But when I hit the ground I break my legs,” Sarah began quietly. “So I crawled through the bush. I knew I had to get away.”

It’s mind boggling to consider the brutality of Islamist extremists. From female genital mutilations to child brides, to whippings and execution by stoning, to kidnapping, to the slaughter of tens of thousands of innocent Christians and Jews, there is no reasoning with the terrorists because they are savages. And the savages are on a relentless jihad.

The miraculous escape of the Chibok schoolgirls who’d been kidnapped by the Boko Haram is a resounding reaffirmation of the strength of the human spirit. These girls survived because of their wits, tenacity, and courage. But when asked about it, they respectfully defer to Almighty God as the single reason they are alive.

And now the conclusion:

After our meeting with Congresswoman Wilson, we had three more appointments. The first one was with Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, TX, D-18, and our last one was with Congresswoman Lois Frankel, FL, D-22. These ladies had been part of the Congressional Delegation to Nigeria in June and thus had met the girls previously.

Our time with both Congresswomen was shortened due to Congressional voting, but each one expressed their continued concern about the girls’ welfare and the others who are still missing. Like Wilson, Jackson Lee and Frankel are supportive of legislation to halt the Boko Haram and assist in aid for the victims.

In between those two, we met with Congressman Trent Franks, AZ, D-9. Franks was not part of the Congressional Delegation, so he had not yet met the girls. However, he is outspoken on religious freedom and persecution throughout the world and wanted to hear the girls’ stories and become involved.

Eve bravely recapped her and Ruth’s experience (they were together) and then it was Sarah’s turn. The beginning of her account is virtually identical to Eve’s, so this will pick up where the stories separate.

Sarah is the most reserved of all and I’m fairly certain she didn’t want to speak. But she did share a bit and this is the gist of her account.

“I was in a different car (flatbed truck). It was dark and we had been moving for a long, long time. Finally some girls jumped. I was afraid if I jumped and ran, I would be shot. But I knew if I stayed, I would be dead.

“So I jumped.” She took a deep breath as a terrible expression moved across her face. “When I hit the ground I break my legs . . . I couldn’t get up or walk, so I crawled.” At that point she was overwhelmed by emotion and stopped speaking.

Her final sentence stunned everyone in the room and the resounding silence was deafening.

Mr. Ogebe took over and told the rest of Sarah’s story.

Ogebe: “Sarah was in the truck and jumped like the other girls. But when she landed, she injured her knees so she simply could not walk.

“But she knew she had to get out of there, so she crawled on her belly into the bush. It can only be estimated how long she crawled, but it’s safe to say it was possibly all through the night. The good news is that her best friend stayed right next to her.

“She finally couldn’t go any farther, so her friend left her in the forest and went to seek help. Her friend came to another Fulani (Muslim nomad) who initially was afraid to help for fear of retribution from the terrorists. But eventually he took pity on her. Together they went back to Sarah and put her on his bike. Then he rode with her all the way back to Chibok while her friend ran along side.

“Sarah spent a month in the medical clinic and when she was released she had to use crutches for another month.”

“What can I do,” Mr. Franks asked the girls, “what can we do, as Americans to help you and the other girls?”

“We need our school rebuilt and our classmates to come to here,” Eve responded, “So we can finish our school.”

“Why do you think the Boko Haram are doing what they are doing?” Franks asked.

Eve smiled as though this was an easy question. “Because they do not know Jesus,” she said conclusively.

The moment she uttered those words a few media jaws dropped at the far end of the enormous conference table. The answer was simple, concise and said it all.

While the world has been focused most recently on ISIS and ISIL, the Boko Haram have murdered more Christians in Nigeria in the last two years – than in all the other countries of the world combined. These girls have been in the midst of that slaughter and they know the hard, cold truth.

Like his colleagues, Mr. Franks is deeply concerned about the thousands of Christian Nigerians who have perished, and at the end of the meeting pledged to do whatever he could to help stop the genocide and assist with rescue efforts.

After a very long day the girls went back to their temporary residence, Mr. Ogebe went home and I headed for my hotel. Bright and early the next morning we all met up again and headed out to their boarding school, which is a multi-day trek.

When we reached our destination I was pleasantly surprised to tour one of the finest K-12 schools I have ever seen. Since it is a full-time, year-round boarding school, the girls have constant supervision by ‘Dorm Moms’ who look after them, especially in the middle of the night when nightmares can surface.

The school doesn’t subscribe to assigning age-based grade levels, but rather evaluates all incoming students and places them where they should be, academically. Then the staff provides private tutors to bring the students up to grade level as quickly as possible.

Each student is immediately immersed in a quality education, rounded out with plenty of art, music, sports, theater, chorus, and a few chores. Yup, good old fashioned chores like cleaning your own room and helping in the kitchen. Considering the school’s college graduation rate is close to 90 percent, I’d say they’re on to something.

One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do was to say goodbye to those beautiful girls. They really got into my heart and even as I type this, I’m struggling with emotions.

Before I sign off, I’d like to give you some hard, cold financial facts.

The first step in getting these girls to the U.S. is a Nigerian passport, then a U.S. visa. Together these two items cost roughly $600. USD. This might not seem like much until you consider the average Nigerian salary is about a buck a day (assuming their parents are alive). Thus it is impossible for the families to afford these documents.

Soon after the visa is obtained, the girls need to be on a flight out of Nigeria because they are virtual targets of the Boko Haram. Consequently, because there is no predictability on the issuing of the visas, there is no way to purchase advance tickets from the airlines.

Each one-way airfare is approximately three thousand dollars and the airlines have so far – refused to reduce prices for this humanitarian effort. Additionally, the airlines have refused to allow the girls to be classified as “unaccompanied minors” (for safety’s sake) because they are technically over the arbitrary age set by the airline. Yet, because of the girl’s inexperience outside the Nigerian bush and the trauma they’ve suffered, they require supervision during the travel, especially if they are traveling alone. Thus a chaperone ticket has to be purchased, which is another huge burden.

Finally, two private schools in the U.S. have generously donated a dozen scholarships to the Chibok girls (normal annual cost is $16,000. per student). While the schools have additional openings for more of the girls, they simply cannot afford to offer additional scholarships due to the sheer financial burden.

Jubilee Campaign has prescreened some of the 50-60 girls who escaped. So far, eight of them are on a waitlist but lack the requisite $600 for passport/visas and the $3000 each for travel expenses.

Personally, I’ve always been skeptical of large charity organizations because of repeated reports that much of the money donated goes to administrative costs. But after spending five days with Jubilee Campaign, I can tell you it’s a very small, efficient organization and every penny collected for the girls, goes to the items just mentioned. If you would like more information or to contribute, please visit their website at Jubilee

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