Two of the escapee Chibok girls known simply by their first names Debbie and Grace have graduated after completing junior year (11th grade) and senior year (12 grade) at a private international school in the Washington metro area of the United States.
Emmanuel Ogebe, International Director, Education Must Continue Initiative explained in a statement on Friday that Debbie and Grace were part of the first 57 girls who escaped from Boko Haram after the mass abduction of almost 300 Chibok schoolgirls by the terrorist group in April 2014.
According to him, the two were taken all the way to the terrorists’ camp in Sambisa before they escaped and made it back home in a journey that took about a week.
He added that the two schoolgirls were among a dozen Nigerian girls sponsored to school abroad by a Nigerian NGO, Education Must Continue Initiative, EMC, with his help.
Ogebe noted that by the graduation, Debbie and Grace became the first escaped Chibok girls to graduate from an American high school with diplomas after completing and meeting academic standards.
He added that several other girls had dropped out of EMC’s school abroad project after managing to graduate from middle school (8th grade) last year and are now attempting to take the GED exam (external GCE equivalent).
The graduation of the two Chibok girls, he said, were witnessed by a delegation from Nigeria which included the founders and directors of EMC, Mr and Mrs Paul Gadzama and the parent of one of the girls who traveled all the way from Chibok.
He added that the only Chibok girl currently pursuing a degree program in an American university cut short her summer vacation in Nigeria to return for the graduation of her colleagues.
Also, the girls’ American host families were among the audience who witnessed the graduation.
The Chibok girls were among only 21 students who graduated as a few international students were unable to graduate thanked their host families, the NGO volunteers from EMC for supporting them to achieve their dreams.
Also speaking, the parent visiting from Nigeria stated that he had personally seen that the team had done more for his daughter in America than he could have done for them in Nigeria and thanked them for their love.
Ogebe described how he first brought the orphan of a pastor murdered by Boko Haram to school in the US in 2013.
The following year, Boko Haram attacked her village and abducted 276 girls. Consequently because he had helped an orphan from Chibok before he was able to help these ones as well. He concluded that “unless God builds a house, the laborers labor in vain.”
He appreciated the sacrifice of EMC founders Mr and Mrs Gadzama who flew at their own expense to witness the girls’ graduation after missing their own daughter’s graduation with a master’s in Public Health (MPH) in Michigan just a few weeks earlier.
Ogebe also thanked EMC’s American volunteer Education Adviser Deanna who helped obtain admission and scholarships to the exclusive $35,000 per year school for her role after their former school tried to take advantage of them.
The girls had to repeat 11th grade after their initial school failed to meet up to its obligations.
According to Ogebe, a church Thanksgiving is planned for the girls who are exploring their future endeavors following graduation.
He added that the girls won several awards, among which is “Most hard working student in English as Second Language 3”.
“This is an outstanding feat for Chibok girls especially given the fact that in Nigeria, most continue to speak in Hausa to the consternation of many Nigerians. This shows that our education model of immersion – placing the students in American homes – was immensely successful as they are now able to engage confidently, communicate effectively and blossom generally,” says Emmanuel Ogebe the International Program Director. “This is why the girls in EMC’s US program are the most articulate Chibok girls anywhere in the world.”