One of the 276 Christian girls abducted from their school in northern Nigeria by Boko Haram has just graduated from university.
Mary Katambi was kidnapped from the Chibok State Secondary School in April 2014 when she was sixteen. She later escaped from the radical Islamic group.
She completed her degree in Accounting at the American University (AUN) in Yola, Adamawa State and her graduation ceremony took place this month at the university.
The CEO of the Christian charity Open Doors UK & Ireland, Henrietta Blyth, says it’s a huge achievement :
“Boko Haram roughly translates as ‘western education is forbidden’.This is a powerful sign that young people across Nigeria want the chance of an education, and no amount of intimidation is going to change that, especially not the chance for girls.”
Mary’s parents and friends were at the university to celebrate with her.
“Honestly, I never thought that my daughter would escape the hands of Boko Haram,” said Mary’s father Katambi. “As I watched Mary collect her certificate, tears dropped from my eyes. I never imagined that my children would ever study at university. I am just a peasant farmer, trying to provide for my family. But God did the unthinkable.
“I remember when our children were abducted in 2014, the world were praying along with us. We received encouragement cards and trauma healing from Open Doors. Today I am here to testify that God has answered the prayers of his children.”
Saratu, her mother, said she shed tears of joy as she watched her daughter in her graduation gown. “I never thought I would see Mary again. But the prayers of believers have brought her out of captivity and now she has graduated from university. Yesu na gode – thank you Jesus! “
Mary is one of several of the kidnapped Chibok girls to study at AUN, but the first to graduate.
She was offered a private sponsorship to study at the American University, but a number dropped out from their studies, too traumatised by their time in captivity to apply themselves to the course.
Since the abduction, many more of the girls either escaped or have been freed. However, 112 of them are still unaccounted for. And Leah Shibaru recently celebrated her 18th birthday in captivity after she refused to convert to Islam.
“Mary is a testimony. Please don’t stop praying for the other children that are in the hands of the abductors,” urges Katambi. “Pray that God will bring them out and one day, we will come and celebrate more graduations.”