A shocking statistic
The UN recently stated that since 2009, an estimated 8,000 children have been abducted by Boko Haram. And according to a UNICEF report, at least 117 of these children have been used as suicide bombers since 2017—and more than 80 percent of them are girls.
I can barely allow my mind to picture the moments before the explosion when Boko Haram militants slipped the vests onto these dear children and forced them to walk into the crowded tea hall before they pushed the button to end their lives—and the lives of so many others.
It’s so challenging to think about these things. Especially as a parent. But it’s important to know they are happening.
Meet the Children of Nigeria
I recently returned from a trip to northern Nigeria where I met so many Nigerian women and children. Children laughing, cooking, playing soccer and girls braiding each other’s hair; women tending to their farmland, sewing dresses, fetching water, often with babies in a pouch on their backs.
All of the children in these images have been persecuted by extremists, mostly Boko Haram. Some have had their villages attacked. Others had their homes destroyed. Fathers killed. Mothers or siblings abducted. Their churches burned. Their lives forever changed in some way or another.
It’s a powerful reminder that the spiritual battle we’re in is real. As real as the suicide vests Boko Haram prepares for innocent children.