Nigeria: Two Chibok Survivors Graduate at U.S. Colleges 10 Years After Abduction

Chibok girls
21 May 2024

Patience Bulus and Mercy Ali Paul have both achieved remarkable educational milestones - made even more significant by the fact that only a decade earlier they'd been abducted by Boko Haram extremists in Chibok, Nigeria.

Bulus graduated with a degree in Gender Studies and Religion from Dickinson College, while Paul received an Associate Degree in Social Science from Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA), as part of the Murtala Muhammed Foundation (MMF) and Victims Support Fund (VSF) scholarships offered to the rescued Chibok girls.

The young women survived their Boko Haram abduction in 2014 and were then offered the opportunity to pursue higher education in the United States.

"The abduction of 276 schoolgirls 10 years ago from their boarding school signaled the urgency of action to secure education for girls in Nigeria," said Aisha Muhammed-Oyebode, founder and CEO of MMF. "We celebrate Patience and Mercy's achievements today as a powerful example of resilience and their determination not to be defined by the past but focused on the future."

Both graduates shared their inspiring stories. "Graduating feels like a dream I never thought would come true. Ten years ago, I was just hoping to survive the nightmare of abduction...I finally escaped and became determined to reclaim my life. I knew education was the key to rebuilding my future, and now with this diploma, I feel empowered," said Ali Paul.

Bulus spoke of resilience and hope her graduation symbolizes: "Walking across this stage is more than just receiving a diploma; it's a testament to perseverance and the power of community support. Today is proof that, with perseverance and support, we can overcome even the most harrowing experiences."

Abductions continue to underscore the persistent danger to young people in Nigeria's conflict areas. With one of the highest instances of out-of-school children, stabilizing and strengthening the country's education system is "crucial for empowering youth and economic progress".

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