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In Nigeria, challenge goes beyond missing girls [Letter]

Democracy

As a Nigerian student who received most of her education there, it is soothing to hear what others are doing to show sympathy and spread awareness for this crisis. I was particularly interested when I learned that Roland Park Country School participated in the "Bring back our girls" movement and campaign several weeks ago ("Bring back our girls," May 8). The support goes a long way, as it is substantial for the country and the mothers to understand that they are not alone.

As a girl who attends St. Timothy's School, an all-girls boarding school in Baltimore County, I have been opened to so much knowledge and diversification and I've seen the importance of education. I'm appreciative of the opportunity that my parents have extended to me. When I first learned of the kidnapping of the school girls, I was similarly shocked like others but assumed that the girls would soon return safely.

However, after two weeks there was no news of their return, and more girls were kidnapped in addition to the original 275. It took the rally of the grieving mothers on the streets to stress the degree of this adversity. I feel that this level of response is in direct relation to the influence of the government on its society. The lack of response or support from the Nigerian government has forced the mothers to take matters into their own hands. This behavior was similarly seen when a secondary boarding school in Yobe, Nigeria, was attacked by Boko Haram and about 40 boys were killed in February.

Nigeria needs a government that its citizens can have faith in. Nigerians may be hesitant to seek aid when they need it, particularly because they don't want to appear lamentable to other countries. Unfortunately, it is this type of mindset that is hindering the country from moving forward. However, the encouragement and moral support of various nations through the "Bring back our girls" movement has helped to improve the reaction of the Nigerian government.

With that said, further steps need to be taken, for this recognition alone can only do so much. It is not enough to just spread awareness, but it is necessary to take action. With the help and assistance of other nations, these girls can be brought safely back home. But the problem does not end there. The Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram, whose members believe that western education is sin, opposes individuals with different ideologies. Nigeria is a country with various ethnic groups, most of which are either Christian or Muslim, so aside from battling with controversies dealing with tribalism, it is facing ruling the country democratically without any religious affiliation.

These thoughts remain in my mind as I pray for my country and that these girls would return home safely to their families. We are a hard working and determined set of individuals and we have been able to overcome vast circumstances in the past and I have confidence that we can do it again.

Deborah Fehintola Ope, Stevenson

The writer is a 12th grader at St. Timothy's School.

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