As summer comes to an end, I know that many of you are preparing to get your kids ready to go back to school. But for Nigerian girls like Haija whose lives have been disrupted by violence and unimaginable loss, something as simple as going to school is a distant dream. Haija was just 12 years old when Boko Haram terrorists came to her village and abducted her. I want to share a small part of her harrowing story with you, in her own words.
ChildVoice’s 2018 Annual Report examines our growing efforts to expand our impact into Ugandan, South Sudanese, and Nigerian refugee communities as we continue to build upon the solid foundations we’ve laid at the Lukome Center and develop sustainable solutions to help displaced and war-affected girls recover and thrive.
This fall, ChildVoice is launching its Girl Empowerment Centers in the IDP camps of Nigeria with the hope of reaching adolescent refugee girls suffering from isolation and despair. In order to enroll 1,000 girls in our Nigeria Empowerment Centers this fall, we urgently need your help today!
In May, I traveled to northeastern Nigeria with ChildVoice Board Member Mark Hoffschneider on an exploratory and fact-finding mission. Our goal was to determine the feasibility of expanding the ChildVoice model into areas of northern Nigeria in the hope of helping victims of the insurgency of the Boko Haram, an Islamist militant group operating in the region.
Sitting under a mango tree at ChildVoice’s Lukome Center in northern Uganda, I listened to the stories told by ChildVoice counselors. One colleague told a sad war story which, much to my surprise, evoked many laughs. He must have noted my apparent confusion at the incongruous reaction and explained, “If we mourned all of those who died, we would die of sadness. Instead we laugh and tell their stories. This is how we honor them. It’s how we survive.”