One of the parents of kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls, Samuel Yaga and his wife, Rebbecca(both pictured) have told CNN that the long absence of their daughter, Sarah(pictured below) is tormenting.
Recalling how he received the news of the kidnap, Samuel, a mechanic said he was making a routine repair on a client’s car when his phone rang. It was a phone call that would change his life forever.
“I was called in the morning by my elder brother notifying me of an attack on the school where my daughter was schooling,” he said.
Samuel’s blood went cold as his brother continued, telling him that some of the girls had been abducted by Boko Haram.
Samuel knew only too well the vicious and brutal nature of the terrorist group: just a few months before this, Boko Haram had attacked his village in northeastern Nigeria.
Armed men forced him out of his house and one of them pointed a gun to his head. By a sheer miracle, unexplainable even to Samuel, one of the militants intervened, and his life was spared.
Their entire village was razed to the ground and so Samuel moved his family to Chibok and enrolled his eldest daughter Sarah into the Government Secondary School so that she could sit for her final high school exam.
He chose Chibok because not only was it his ancestral home and he had relatives there but also because it had no history of Boko Haram attacks. He felt it was safe — until now.
Later in the day Samuel’s brother phoned him again. “Then before sunset he called me again, and informed me that my daughter was part of those that were taken by Boko Haram.”
His wife Rebecca says the news of her daughter’s abduction tore at her heart. She refused to believe it when her husband first told it to her — until it was confirmed on the evening news.
“Seriously, seriously, mum and her daughter. The pain is indescribable,” she reflects.
“She used to tell me one day she will finish school and become somebody. She used to assist the younger ones with their homework,” she said
“She loved studies. She used to fall asleep with her books in her arms,” she added.
Her father remembers her as the caring eldest child who used to secretly collect his dirty clothes, wash them and press them for him. He also remembers her passion for knowledge.
“She is brilliant. She liked reading. Always she loved going to school,” he said.
Inside their small one roomed house — there is nothing to indicate that the Christmas festive season has begun. They say Christmas used to be a time of laughter and spending time with family.
“Every Christmas we used to be complete and happy but now one of us is not there, how can it be the same?” asks Samuel.
“There is nothing I can say. It has happened. It is a bad Christmas. But there is nothing we can do,” says Rebecca.
A sadness surrounds the couple as they clutch to the only physical memory that they have of their daughter — a few photos and one bright green top, one of her favorites.
But although they are at low spirits, they say their hopes remain high that their daughter will come back. They pass on that encouragement to their other five children who say they miss their sister.
“Her siblings know that she is not here — they themselves know what is happening, having come out of war,” says Samuel.
“They keep asking me, ‘When is she coming back?’ But I keep telling them to keep trusting God. Maybe He will hear us,” he adds.