Don’t let the critics bring you down.
That was the essence of the message two young Nigerians had for President Donald Trump at a recent meeting in the White House.
The two girls know a lot about turmoil and despair. Joy Bishara and Lydia Pogu were among 276 girls kidnapped from their school in Chibok, northeast Nigeria, by Boko Haram militants in April 2014.
The pair were among dozens who managed to escape in the immediate aftermath of the kidnapping, jumping from trucks after the Islamist militants rounded them up and tried to bring the girls to their forest hideout. But while more than 150 have escaped or been freed, 113 of the so-called Chibok girls remain in captivity.
Bishara and Pogu met with President Trump and his daughter Ivanka at the White House in late June; a visit timed to coincide with the State Department’s annual report on human trafficking around the world. The leader of Boko Haram—which means “Western education is forbidden”—claimed shortly after the 2014 kidnapping that the girls would be trafficked at market or married off to the group’s fighters.
Both Trumps were “deeply moved” by the visit of the girls, according to a White House press statement released Thursday. The Nigerian pair recently graduated from Canyonville Christian Academy, a boarding school in Oregon. They were originally brought to the U.S. in August 2014 by a Christian NGO in Virginia, the Jubilee Campaign, according to an interview the pair gave to People.
The pair are due to attend Southeastern University in Florida this fall and have a crowdfunding page to help fund a visit to their parents in Nigeria this summer, which has raised $7,000 so far.
During their visit, the two girls read a letter to President Trump, urging him to uphold America’s national security as an example for other nations in the world. The White House published an extract of the letter, which reads:
“Mr. President, we urge you to keep America safe and strong. We know that some people are trying to discourage you. Do not be discouraged. You are right to keep American [sic.] safe and strong. Not only for America. But for the world. If American [sic.] is not safe and strong, where can people like us look for hope, when there is danger? Finally, we urge you to keep making America prosperous.”
The visit was not publicized widely in advance, although a picture of the two girls alongside the president, Ivanka Trump and several other people appeared as the White House Photo of the Day on its Facebook page on June 28.
Courtesy Yahoo News