Chibok escape girls want safe schools

Chibok girls, Gordon Brown, Safe schools

I spoke to two girls from the Chibok last night and heard from them how they escaped from Boko Haram terrorists, bravely fleeing for their lives under threat of gunfire.

Both of the girls had many friends who are now missing. Both of the girls wanted to be doctors and were studying science. Both of the girls wanted us to help them continue their studies. Both want their schools to be safe.

The girls were part of a group of six from Chibok that were on the telephone call with their parents and the leader of the Chibok Council, Baana Lawan, with whom I have now talked on a number of occasions about how we can help his town deal with this crisis.

First, everybody in Chibok prays and wants the girls to be brought back safe and as soon as possible and many parents are grief-stricken, not knowing whether their children are being murdered or molested.

They are consumed by fear that Boko Haram will attempt to forcibly convert the girls to an extreme version of another religion and the same time they are terrified they might be sold as sex slaves.

But the girls also want to return to their education as soon as possible, hopefully with all their friends back in the classroom. And that will take time. The girls know it will need to be rebuilt after it was burned and looted by the extremists.

That is one reason why we have set up a fund for security at schools, the Safe Schools Initiative, and contributions that people will make will go toward schools in northern Nigeria and making sure that they have guards, fortifications and security equipment that would enable us to communicate with them whenever there was danger.

The girls left me in no doubt that they will be committed to their education and wanted to resume their studies as soon as possible. Their ambition is to serve the community as doctors when they eventually qualify from their college studies.

Around the world girls like those from Chibok are at the heart of a civil rights struggle for the right to education. They are against evil forces that will stop at nothing to prevent them going to school.

It is our duty to help the girls of Chibok and in doing so, help the 30 million girls, who today do not go to school, have their first chance of an education.

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