Nearly 300 school girls were kidnapped on April 15 from their boarding school in Northern Nigeria allegedly by a Muslim extremist group named Boko Haram.
Several trucks allegedly arrived in the middle of the night to the girls’ boarding school filled with armed men working for Boko Haram. They reportedly “stormed the school” and set it afire. Residents say that the attackers then “herded several hundred terrified girls into the vehicles — and drove off and vanished.”
Boko Haram is a Muslim extremist group formed in in 2002. Its official name is Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad —translated to English this means, “People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad.” The groups’ core beliefs are centered around the idea that the participation in anything Western such as voting in elections, Western clothing and secular education are contradictory to Islam and therefore forbidden.
The kidnapped girls were a mixture of Christian and Muslim, and despite many schools in the area closing due to attacks from Boko Haram, the school reopened so the girls could take their exams and move on to successful careers. Now their parents fear the very worst for their daughters as they are reportedly being sold as child brides.
Many people are “outraged” that this event has received so little coverage and that the public was only made aware of it recently. Online support groups have been started on Facebook and Change.org in hopes of putting pressure on the United States and the United Nations to help the Nigerian government find the girls.
The Archer School has shown their outrage and support for the girls in Nigeria by staging a photo with Archer girls and the caption “What would happen if we went missing?”
Logan Howard ’14, the senior who arranged the photo shoot, feels extremely passionate about this issue, saying that ever since she heard about the issue it had been on her mind “nonstop.” She says she “wanted to do something to help, but I didn’t know what to do.” But she found inspiration from other girls’ schools around the world showing support through photos and “knew that our community had to join in.”
Howard feels particularly passionate about this issue due to her involvement in the Girls Empower Girls club at Archer: “I strongly believe in the power of girls’ education and it angers me to know that there are people out there who are trying to suppress it.”
Howard notes that “taking a photograph is not a solution, [but] it does help spread awareness. There are many other ways to help this situation, and I don’t plan to stop here.”
On May 16, the Archer community continued its support for the cause by writing letters of support to the families of the kidnapped girls.
The Archer Community continues to support and hope for the safe return of the kidnapped girls in Nigeria.