UofL students join global campaign to rescue kidnapped teen girls

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by Karma Dickerson

WHAS11.com

Posted on May 6, 2014 at 6:05 PM

Updated Tuesday, May 6 at 9:19 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – It’s a parent's worst nightmare, their daughter goes to school and never makes it home. And today yet another mass kidnapping of school girls in Nigeria is reported.  Now people in Louisville are joining a global movement calling for the release of more than 250 kidnapped young women.

Most of the girls are believed to be between 16 and 18-year-old students from a school in northeast Nigeria.  Terrorists grabbed the girls from their school in the middle of the night then took them deep into the jungle.

The self-proclaimed leader of Boko Haram an Islamist militant group promises to sell the girls.  That hits close to home for some UofL students working to bring international pressure to get the girls back home.

Mumiye Ogunwale and Elisha Otome Okoromoba are a long way from home. But the two chemistry students at UofL say they couldn't be happier living and learning in Louisville.

“I love research and I think this is the best place to get the best research experience,” Okoromoba said.

The two remain focused on their doctoral studies, all the while knowing that at anytime their loved ones back home could be subject to any manner of dangerous situations.  However the islamist militants threatening the lives of hundreds of school girls have shown those PhD. students a new face of terror.

“It’s just heart breaking,” Okoromoba said.

Okoromoba  and Ogunwale first heard about the kidnapping of 250 Nigerian girls about three weeks ago from a blogger friend back home.

“I believe they are my sisters cuz we are from the same place, they are my blood, they don't necessarily have to come from my family,” Ogunwale said.

As more and more details emerged, the few girls who escaped told stories of rape, and forced marriages to their captors.  And then there was a video released by a man claiming to be the leader of Boko Haram, claiming he has plans to sell the kidnapped girls.  The only thing the UofL graduate students find more appalling is the fact that despite the waves of angry citizens taking to the streets of Nigeria this situation went largely ignored by the world community.

“The lives of these 200 students that have been abducted are as important as the Korean ferry incident and MH 270 which has been on the news forever,” Okoromoba added.

From the UofL campus, Okoromoba joined the fight to turn the world's attention to the kidnapped girls. Tweeting different national news anchors with “#bringbackourgirls”.  Since then, CNN has started leading some newscasts with the story of these stolen children.  That hashtag has gone viral which these students say is critical to forcing what they call the prideful Nigerian government to seek help with a rescue.

Over the weekend, President Obama pledged to help the Nigerian government rescue the girls.  However since that time another kidnapping of eight girls, ages 12-15, by the same group was reported Monday night.  Ogunwale and Okoromoba said they're working on organizing a local protest to help keep the pressure on governments to act. 

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