As It Happens

Young women who escaped terror of Boko Haram now attending university

In English, Boko Haram literally translates as "Western education is forbidden." Last spring, the Nigerian militant group kidnapped more than 200 female students from the town of Chibok and took them deep into their stronghold. Most of the teenagers remain captive. ...
In English, Boko Haram literally translates as "Western education is forbidden." Last spring, the Nigerian militant group kidnapped more than 200 female students from the town of Chibok and took them deep into their stronghold. Most of the teenagers remain captive. 

But a handful escaped and have now begun attending classes at the American University of Nigeria. 

University president Margee Ensign tells  As it Happens that, after the escaped students returned home, it wasn't easy to convince their parents to send them away once again. They said "our girls were kidnapped, and now you're asking us to give them to you."

But Ensign's staff did convince the parents, and made arrangements to collect 21 students in September. 

By August, though, the families in Chibok were getting ready to flee the town because of fears that Boko Haram might attack again. So Ensign and her head of security rushed up to collect their students, careful to remove the school's large insignia from their car. 

Again, the parents told Ensign, "Our girls were kidnapped. Everyone told us not to do this. And now we're giving them to you, you must make sure they are safe. In all aspects."

Ensign says it was emotional. "For a second I thought maybe this is too much. But of course it isn't. It was one of those moments where you realise that life is going to change, not just for the people you're with, but you're going to change too."  

"In the months they've been with us, the transformation is so remarkable. These young women are inspiring everyone they come into contact with. They've come a long way in the months we've had them with us."

The students will soon take their national exams and begin studying to become doctors, teachers, lawyers and engineers. The university is funding their education through donations to a scholarship fund.

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