The fight to rescue hundreds of kidnapped Nigerian school girls is now a global effort.
More than 300 girls were kidnapped by the Islamic militant group Boko Haram in April. A few dozen girls have since escaped. But most are missing. Almost a month later, Nigeria has begun accepting help from the United States, Britain, France and China.
First lady Michelle Obama went public on Saturday, calling the kidnappings an unconscionable act. There are now warnings Boko Haram has laid land mines in the jungle to stop any foreign special operations. The group is trying to make a point.
At protests and rallies all over the country, including in North Texas, people are calling for the girls’ safe return to their families. There are roughly 15,000 Nigerians living in North Texas. And while this massive kidnapping hits close to home for them, today they found a lot of support here, especially from mothers on Mother’s Day.
A group of nearly 200 strangers came together at John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza in Downtown Dallas in song, prayer, and hope… hope that the 276 girls kidnapped from a Christian boarding school in Northern Nigeria are soon set free and not sold into slavery as the militant Islamic group Boko Haram has vowed.
The group opposes western education and education for women in general. “We are not going to sleep, we are not going to relent until the 276 children are going to come back,” said Nigerian National Augustu Ekong. For Ekong, this hits very close to home. She attended a Christian boarding school in Southern Nigeria, saying even today it is a common practice. “We did not have security, we did not fear anything, in the dormitories the student just lived by themselves and the teachers lived in their quarters. We didn't have any fears. We wake up we play we go to school and we come back and we study."
Dr. Safisha Hill brought her daughter to help her understand what’s really going on in Nigeria. "We're here to ask the world to pay attention so that we can get our girls back." "I think it's important for young women to understand that women need to be able to use their voice for power,” said Dr. Hill. "If that was me I would be crying for my mother my father anyone to see if they can help me, help me get home to my family. So, that's a real terror for me."
Rachel Roberts-Pickett posted a message on Facebook six days ago, saying she wanted to do something to spread the word, especially on Mother’s Day. She’s overwhelmed by the response and support. Balloons were released as a symbolic gesture of what the group hopes will be the outcome. “Absolutely it gives me hope, it gives me hope that we are going to stand together, united in solidarity for these mothers until these girls are brought back home,” said Roberts-Pickett.
Many of the Nigerians FOX 4 spoke with Sunday were critical of the Nigerian President, saying he has been slow to respond to this crisis and they’re angry he didn’t do more to stop this terrorist group before now. With international military intelligence assistance, the Nigerian president now says he’s optimistic the girls will be found.
The group is asking people to call their senators and congressmen, and some hope Exxon-Mobile, headquartered in North Texas, will get involved because the company has a lot of oil operations in Southern Nigeria. The group is also keeping a presence on social media until the girls and found and returned to their homes.