What began in Chibok, Nigeria, in April 2014 with the shocking kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls by Islamic militant group Boko Haram has ended happily in the U.S. for a Feldman Shepherd client who managed to escape her captors.
Attorney Evan Y. Liu, M.D., recently assisted in securing asylum and permanent resident status for Patience Bulus, who at age 16 was one of the schoolgirls kidnapped in the extremist attack that sparked international outrage and prompted the “#BringBackOurGirls” social media campaign, which garnered support from Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, Malala Yousafzai, Angelina Jolie, and other prominent political figures, activists, humanitarians and celebrities.
During the chaos of the abduction ― in which the teen girls were left to fend for themselves after their teachers and security staff fled ― only about 57 girls managed to escape. Bulus did so 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. Defying Boko Haram, whose name roughly translates to “Western education is a sin,” Bulus entered a special college preparatory program at Dickinson College and is now pursuing her college degree.
Liu became involved in her case after he signed on for a training program by HIAS Pennsylvania to provide pro bono representation to migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. HIAS Pennsylvania is a nonprofit organization that provides legal and social services to low-income and at-risk immigrants and refugees. Liu worked in conjunction with another attorney who was also a volunteer.
“Patience is a model in how the human spirit perseveres, and I look forward to celebrating what will most certainly will be her many contributions and successes in the United States,” Liu said. “It was truly my honor to assist her in the asylum process and to take part in the important work of HIAS Pennsylvania.”
Nearly seven years after the mass abduction, in January 2021, several of the schoolgirls (out of about 100 who were still missing) managed to escape Boko Haram. Previously, about 107 of the schoolgirls were found or were released in 2018 pursuant to a deal between the Nigerian government and Boko Haram. Additionally, Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the Dec. 11, 2020, kidnapping of more than 300 boys from a government boys’ school in Nigeria’s northern village of Kankara. The boys have since been freed, and it has been widely reported that another group was responsible for the kidnapping.
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