Tuesday, May 13, 2014

LIVE from the #BringBackOurGirls Wellington Rally

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND—This afternoon, I joined Yemi, a Nigerian friend, and hundreds of New Zealanders, several NGO spokespeople and diplomats, and 276 local schoolgirls to rally for the #BringBackOurGirls movement.

Change-a-Life Nigeria for #BringBackOurGirls
In the rain and cold, we met in Civic Square in downtown Wellington and marched to Parliament, where we were met by a senior cadre of politicians. As we made our way through the capital, we were led in a chant:

"What do you want?"

"Bring back our girls!"

"When do you want it?"


"Real men?"

"Real men don't buy girls!"

I found it awfully difficult in these circumstances, amongst so many people so passionately banded together, the New Zealanders, the foreigners, the Nigerians, the politicians, the diplomats, and the handful of kids in strollers, to chant. Every time I raised my voice, it cracked. Eventually, I thought of anything but those 276 abducted schoolgirls, just so I could join in the shouting.

"276 Stolen Dreams" 
At Parliament, a South African man took the mike, and said two things that astonished me. First, he reminded us how long it took the international community to condemn the violence in Rwanda in 1994. As the speaker pointed out, it wasn't until 10,000 or so dead bodies floated down the Kagera River into Lake Victoria that the international community took action. And then he also alerted us to a new type of violence: in Nigeria, in the north, Boko Haram have begun killing children while they sleep. It is with breathless astonishment and fury that I then (and still, in this moment, as I type) tried to imagine how one might go about murdering a sleeping child, how one might lean on religion to make this act right in the eyes of their god.

The crowd, after hearing this from the South African speaker, was silent. My friend Yemi murmured that it was true, that yes children are being killed while they sleep. Shoulder to shoulder, I stood with a Sri Lankan man and a Chinese woman. The Sri Lankan held a sign that read "276 Stolen Dreams - Bring Back Our Girls."

And it is with this in mind that I contemplate, once again, the nature of following dreams. For some of us, me included, following a dream was a decadence, a choice. I walked out of one terrific job to pursue a path to something more terrific. Alas, it was freedom that allowed me to do so, and education that provided the building blocks. So what of these children, of these girls? What of their hopes and dreams, their simple right to make choices?
276 schoolgirls arrive from Wellington Girls' College

And what can the world do? What actual action can we take? Nobody seems to want American military involvement. That much was clear from what was said by one of the politicians, and how the crowd reacted in agreement.

Off in the distance, shattering the solemn silence, 276 schoolgirls from Wellington Girls' College arrived. They wrapped around Parliament, jubilantly chanting, "Bring back our girls! Bring back our sisters!" They stomped their feet, and rallied a hopeful cry that brought tears to everyone's eyes.


"LIVE from Mongolia" is the true story of one woman's journey to pursue her passion, at all costs. It's a #1 bestseller on Amazon. Available in hardcover, Kindle, and on Barnes & Noble. Happy dreaming…to those of us who can. (Published by Beaufort Books, 2013)

1 comment:

Yemi said...

Great review Trish! We just hope and pray that the girls would be returned back to their families soon.