With the World Cup ending and Germany winning the title, #Gotze was the trending hashtag of last week. This past spring #BringBackOurGirls had its fifteen minutes of fame after the world learned of the Nigerian girls’ abduction by Boko Haram, an Islamist extremist, from their school. It was not the first, and definitely not the last, of Boko Haram’s attacks (it has perpetrated kidnappings and mass murders since 2009), but it was the only crime that made it to mainstream America.
However, just as quickly as the Western world called for action against Haram and his followers, they moved onto the next trending event. While it is easy to lose interest in something that is physically and mentally far away from everyday life, the family members, towns and governments of northern Nigeria that have been scarred by Boko Haram’s violence do not have that option. The kidnapping of hundreds of girls, not to mention the slaughter of hundreds of people, is a tragedy for the communities involved and a major threat for the advancement of girls’ education in developing countries with extremist influences. While American mothers may quibble over if their children will be safe walking a few blocks to school, many mothers of girls in vulnerable African communities will abandon the idea of educating their daughters out of fear for their safety.
While many have rallied around the “educate a girl and she will lift herself out of poverty” idea, this concept is not only an over-simplified approach to eliminating poverty but also an illogical linear model to education and development. Enrolling a girl in school does not automatically ensure her success– there are many barriers to achieving an education and then implementing it, from malnutrition to economic security to safety concerns. At Komera, we aim to address these barriers through a holistic program. For example, the mentorship program addresses the physical and mental condition of the scholars, and the parent co-op has helped many of the scholars’ families achieve further economic stability. The variety and interrelatedness of our programs seek to ensure the success of the scholars and improve the rate of secondary education completion.
The diverse approach Komera takes to the development of our scholars creates an effective organization. Similarly, collaboration between non-profit and government organizations could dramatically improve how effectively they work towards their goals. In Nigeria, where religious clashes disrupt the country and wreak havoc on its citizens, the need for collaboration of organizations that focus on different aspects of society is vital. These organizations do not stand a chance against powerful groups like Boko Haram, which has global connections and a persuasive recruitment method, unless they work together to change the situation from all angles.
The world has now heard the call of Boko Haram. While some may forget or ignore it, the problem will only get worse unless non-profits, government organizations, and the masses join together to show the world that the call to freedom and equality is more powerful than the demands of extremist groups.
Do not let the call for equality, safety and freedom be just another trend –
- About Nigeria
- About girls’ education
- About freedom
- About collaboration
- About equality
While it may feel frustrating and futile to fight for something that is so far away and out of our control, your words DO make a difference. So keep…
- The conversation alive
- Supporting grass roots movements and non-profits
Strength comes from collaboration and strength comes from the masses. There are more people in this world who believe in equality and freedom than who do not. Change is possible!