A Nigerian charity will help a group of sick and injured Chibok schoolgirls receive the treatment they need after the girls’ parents said the government has failed to help them pay their medical bills. More than 200 schoolgirls were abducted from their school in Chibok, northeast Nigeria, by Boko Haram is April 2014. 82 girls were freed by the Jihadists in May, another 24 being released or found in 2016.
As part of a state rehabilitation program, the government provided some medical care and counselling before sponsoring catch up courses at the American University of Nigeria (AUN) in Yola. However, the government and the university arguably avoided paying for ongoing needed healthcare. A number of the girls were suffering due to various injuries inflicted during their time held in captivity, from shrapnel wounds to fractured bones said Yakubu Nkeki of the Chibok parents’ association.
Naomi Adamu, 27, was one of the schoolgirls abducted and saved from the Islamist group. Her mother said she could not afford the surgery her daughter needed for a kidney condition. She said that “At first, the hospital gave her drip and medicine, but for the past four days they haven’t given her any because they said the medicine is finished,” despite her daughter being in a lot of pain. “The pain is too much. Anything I eat, I vomit,” Naomi said.
As a response, the Murtala Muhammed Foundation (MMF) said this week it would step in to provide financial help for Naomi and a number of other Chibok girls. Aisha Muhammed-Oyebode, MMF’s head and a co-founder of the campaign ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ said the charity had “written to the presidency asking for permission to support Naomi with the treatment she requires.” The charity plans to provide Naomi with a psychological assessment as well as accommodation for her and her family while she undergoes treatment. The willingness of MMF to provide needed assistance to these girls highlights the key role charities can play as agents for positive change.
Despite this positive outcome for Naomi and several other schoolgirls, the same support may not be available if other freed schoolgirls require medical care. Pressure must be put on the government to be more active in the rehabilitation of these girls in order for them to be healthy, active citizens in society. Muhammed-Oyebode said a protocol must be established for the care of all the Chibok abductees, including those still being held captive. “We want them all back and we will keep campaigning for that, but we also need to be concerned about what happens to them when they are brought back,” she said.