Sunday, June 4, 2017 3:32 pm
Human rights workers who sponsored the education of Chibok girls in the US formally handed one of the girls, Debbie, back to her father in an intimate ceremony during a graduation thanksgiving at a church in Washington, United States.
The father of the girl (name withheld for his safety as he still resides in northeast Nigeria) is visiting the US for her graduation.
After a symbolic presentation of her diploma to international human rights lawyer, Emmanuel Ogebe, Debbie answered questions on whether she purchased the diploma or worked hard to earn it. “I worked for it,” she declared.
Thereafter she presented the diploma to her dad who extolled her virtue in maintaining cultural norms of respect and fulfilling the Chibok rite of honoring her dad for helping achieve this milestone.
He commended her hard work and faithfulness which he said he could always count on.
Mr Ogebe then declared that Debbie owed nothing having met her obligations to study hard and complete her high school education while she in turn affirmed that the charity – Education Must Continue – owed Debbie nothing.
Mr Ogebe reaffirmed the fatherhood of her parent over her and acknowledged her mum in absentia both of whom he attested had properly raised Debbie making the job of educating her easier for the organization compared to others.
He reiterated that the parent had a say over the future direction of his daughter and should let EMC know how they may further assist her.
“The importance of this rite of passage is to ensure that the girls and their families understand that they have not lost their bonds, and they have input and process control. There is no assumption that she is gone for good or lost to America and therefore no more connected with her roots. Familial engagement is a critical component of our program ethos,” says Emmanuel Ogebe.
“This is why we have invested heavily in family visits. Each year, the Chibok girls have a chance to visit their families in Nigeria and family members have visited them in the US. One girl just returned from her third family visit to Nigeria in two and a half years just this week
“Debbie and dad will over the next few days sign up afresh for future program services for her if they so wish as is our standard practice.
At the event, Mr Ogebe commended the girls for their good morals and strength of character in addition to their work ethic which led to their obtaining diplomas where their colleagues, seeking an easy shortcut, failed. He recounted the painful day when the girls were informed they would have to repeat 11th grade and how today they have truly overcome.
On display at the reception were a series of awards obtained by Debbie over the course of her two years in an American high school. These included distinctions in Math, Geography, History, English and Bible as well as an Isaac Newton award in Physics.
At the end of the ceremony, the three girls currently in EMC’s US college program engaged the two recent high school grads in a tug-of-war contest to symbolically “pull them” into college.
“We are exceedingly grateful that these girls can be peer mentors and a support system for one another in addition to the wonderful host families comprised of lawyers, doctors and accountants,” says Emmanuel Ogebe. “Indeed it took a village to raise a child and we gratefully acknowledge all the professionals who supported them with medical and other needs.”