Kids Corner


The Lost Girls are All My Daughters

G P Singh




Every time I hear about the 300 kidnapped schoolgirls in Nigeria, it breaks my heart. It hits me in my core. My soul cries out, and I am moved to the brink of tears.

These young girls were simply trying to get a basic education and they were violently denied that by the militant group, Boko Haram. It has been about three weeks since these girls were kidnapped as dawn broke from their school dormitory beds, at gunpoint. At this writing, more than 270 are still missing. In America, they would be in middle and high school.

This is just nauseating. It is barbaric and unthinkable.

The world paid so much attention to the Malaysian airliner disappearance, but in comparison, these disappeared girls have not received the same media coverage or international response.

Inspired by Elie Wiesel's words, I truly believe that whenever someone is victimized, at that moment, they should become the center of the universe. These Lost Girls should be the topic of our conversations, the focus of our efforts, and the center of our universe.

But why aren't they? Why isn't the international community providing help? Is it because they're Nigerian and not westerners? That they are too far away? Is it because they are poor? Is it because saving these girls just is not in the foreign policy interest of the United States? Do these girls not make the cut to be geopolitically relevant?

Apparently, the Nigerian government kept this kidnapping hushed for as long as it could. So this means that any efforts that are now being made to save the girls are most likely, too little, too late. The Boko Haram kidnapping caravan might be in Chad or Cameroon by now. Many of these girls are probably already sold into sex-slavery, masquerading as forced marriages.

I have noticed a lot of lip service. For instance, the U.N. issued a warning, a Nigerian police officer offered a reward for information, President Obama sent over hostage negotiators and the US Senate passed a resolution asking for the girls' safe return.

Sorry, Congress, but that moment of silence isn't going to bring the girls back.

Too little, too late.

On Tuesday, there was an amazing event in San Antonio. The Big Give SA raised about $2 million dollars for local charities in San Antonio. It made me think, “If governments aren't doing anything effective to help find these girls, perhaps a charity needs to step in? We were able to raise quite a bit of money in one event -- why not mobilize the giving circles and charitable hearts to bring these girls home?”

I am so moved by this story that my mind is constantly churning out crazy rescue scenarios.

“Since the Nigerian authorities seem to have no control, since no UN forces are being sent in, maybe we should launch a people's intervention!”

Maybe that makes no sense, but there is a burning desire to find some way, somehow, to help those Lost Girls.

Spearheading social justice efforts and upholding human rights are pillars of American values. Starting in the late 1800s, the United States has had a long history of humanitarian intervention. Most recently, think Kosovo, 1998 and Haiti, 2010. Maybe we should add Nigeria, 2014.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Injustice spreads like a cancer. If we don't hold Boko Haram accountable and eliminate tyranny, human rights abuses will continue.

I urge you to pay attention and apply pressure on the media and the government. Public opinion does shape international action. But you have to stay with it - you can't just move on to something else after a couple of days.

As humans, we are all connected: we breathe the same air, we watch the same sun set and we all love, laugh and cry in the same language. Our spirit and shared experiences make us one. The “Lost Girls” are my daughters. I can feel it in my soul.

It would be so unbelievable if they were found and returned to their parents.

I pray that they are.


The author is vice-chairman of The San Antonio Area Foundation, and serves on the boards of, inter alia, The Sikh Dharam sal and The Sikh Spirit Foundation.


[Courtesy: My San Antonio]

May 11, 2014


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