The past few years of young Leah Sharibu’s life have been filled with uncertainty and fear. On February 18, 2018, Leah was a normal Nigerian Christian girl living a normal life, as normal as life can be for Christian minority communities in Nigeria. However, on February 19, her entire world was turned upside-down. Leah, along with 109 of her fellow classmates, was kidnapped from Government Girls Science and Technical School by Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), a faction of Islamic militant group Boko Haram.
Of the 110 abducted girls, five were killed, and the rest eventually returned to their families. However, Leah remained in captivity. Leah resolutely refused to denounce Christianity and return to Islam at the behest of her captors. Rather, she gained strength in her faith. ISWAP has continued to hold the young Leah against her will for over two years.
Throughout these two tumultuous years, numerous rumors have been spread that Leah has died in captivity, and every time, such rumors have been disproved and we have rejoiced at the preservation of her life and unwavering courage in the face of oppression. However, May 14 marks the third birthday that Leah has had the misfortune of celebrating in captivity of ISWAP. We hope that you can join the international human rights and religious freedom community in celebrating her life and bravery on May 14th by attending the virtual Leah Sharibu Prayer Vigil at 4pm EST.
Though we are unable to physically come together in celebration of Leah’s 16th birthday, we hope that our collective virtual prayers and messages of love can give strength to Leah wherever she may be. Because Leah has spent the past two years in vulnerability, we must now be vulnerable and forthcoming in our relentless prayers for her health, safety, and unconditional release.