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naiga girls: (un)imaginable by verta ayanna


verta ayanna- bring_back_our_girls_2014_37my heart stopped when i first learned of the 234 young girls kidnapped on april 14, 2014 by boko haram, a militant Islamist group in Nigeria whose name literally means “western education is forbidden.” i felt helpless. i felt–
i could not even imagine. i find myself using that saying all too often when i hear of atrocities in the world, especially those that involve children. when a gunman kills innocent children on our city streets, i automatically think, i could not even imagine. when beautiful black boys are stolen from their homes in the darkness of night to become soldiers in wars they cannot even understand, i have thought,  i could not even imagine. after 234 girls were kidnapped from their school in Nigeria and now more than 20 days later the only ones reported found are those who escaped, i think to myself, i could not even imagine

could i really not imagine? this saying  has caused me pause since hearing of the young girls abducted by boko haram in Nigeria. i realized there are parts of these things i can imagine. i am a human being. i am a mother. i have witnessed fear. as my daughter sat crying amidst shatters glass on the roof of our overturned car after a near fatal car accident, i saw fear in her eyes. as i lay on the side of the road. my blood all around us. the scent undoubtedly picked up by the wild animals in the gaming park, i heard my son’s fear. “will someone come and get us?” he asked. when the Beninios doctor saw my file days later and asked, very nonchalantly i must add, “combien de morts? how many died?” i felt fear and imagined far worse. i cried as i imagined what could have been on the side of that dirt road in august of 2011.

not wanting to imagine and not being able to imagine are two very different things.  so, i can imagine. and i believe that others can too. even if only for a moment, we can imagine fear. we have all experienced it on some level. recall your own or that of a loved one at some moment in time. multiply that fear by all the stars in the universe and we may each get just a few heartbeats closer to what just one girl may have felt as armed men came to steal her away from what she only seconds before considered a safe place. take a moment to simply recall your humanity and you will be able to imagine, even if just for one thousandth of a second, the fear and anguish of just one parent of just one abducted girl.

what is unimaginable is that it’s been over 20 days and the only girls reported found were those who escaped. what is unimaginable is that in a world with the technology to witness my every keystroke remotely and locate me right now on this city block in harlem from outer space we have not rescued one girl. what is unimaginable is that until a few days ago we could not find space in the mass media next to the racist rants of a billionaire basketball team owner to report regularly and consistently about these girls literally stolen from their school. what is unimaginable is that in 2014 we have to use grassroots measures to allow the world to be informed and bear witness to this disregard for human life. what is unimaginable is to dwell in helplessness when the truth will always remain that our mere existence, each and everyone of ours, is an opportunity to act. to act with love and to act loudly if we must.

In verta’s next post, she shares some specific actions you can take to make a difference.

Verta Maloneyverta is writing her first book, loving out loud, because she believes that love should never be silent! her purpose in this life is to love out loud, to live on purpose, to laugh a whole bunch, to create, to share stories, to inspire others, to make a difference and to leave the world better than she found her. verta shares how she is inspired by stories, by memories and by life at


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