When Feldman Shepherd attorney Evan Y. Liu, M.D., signed on
for a training program to provide pro bono legal representation to migrants
seeking asylum in the U.S., never did he expect to encounter a client with the
indomitable spirit of Patience Bulus.
Bulus, at age 16, was among the 276 schoolgirls who were
kidnapped on April 14, 2014, in Chibok, Nigeria, by Islamic militant group Boko
Haram. The shocking incident drew international news coverage, a sharp outcry
on social media, and even prompted then First Lady Michelle Obama to post an
image of herself on Twitter posing with a white sheet of paper with the message:
During the frantic chaos of the abduction, about 57 girls
managed to escape. Bulus was one of them. Through a combination of bravery and
luck, she re-claimed her freedom by jumping from a moving truck as she was
being taken away. Somehow her captors did not see her as she was lying injured
on the ground, in intense pain, as headlights flooded over her body.
After an arduous journey back to her hometown of Askira,
Bulus reunited with her family and friends. They were unaware that she had escaped
and were grieving when she arrived.
Thereafter, Bulus came to the United States to rebuild her
life. She is presently studying at a special college preparatory program at
Dickinson College, defying Boko Haram, whose name roughly translates to
“Western education is a sin.” She is applying for admission to college in the
Bulus’ asylum petition is in progress.
Some 112 of Bulus’ classmates are still missing. About 107
of the schoolgirls were subsequently found or were released in 2018 pursuant to
a deal between the Nigerian government and Boko Haram.
“It is truly an honor and a privilege for me to be a part of
the asylum process for this indomitable young woman, and to assist HIAS
Pennsylvania, an illustrious organization with a nearly 140 year history of
providing legal and supportive services to immigrants, refugees, and asylum
seekers, in their efforts,” Liu said.
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