Brooklyn begs to ‘Bring Back our Girls’

Last month, 276 Nigerian schoolgirls were captured by terror group Boko Haram and, while it took place thousands of miles away, Brooklynites have felt the pain. As a result, supporters borough-wide are expressing their love and support in various ways.

All-girls high school, Fontbonne Hall Academy, 9901 Shore Road, has led the community in a tribute created by social studies teacher, Gloria Musto. “I was watching the news early last week and there was a report on how girls were abducted. The school looted burned to ground and parents were distraught not knowing where their daughters are,” said Musto. “It’s just geography that separates our school from their school community. I asked the principal (Mary Ann Spicijaric) if we could put something together.”

From there the idea of tying red ribbons along the school’s fence was formed, along with a prayer service and ceremony, slated for the morning of Friday, April 16, where the community is also invited to add ribbons. “The girls that were abducted are teenagers and young girls in school trying to better their lives. What we do is empower women through education,” she said. “Education is empowerment and there are many people who don’t want to see young girls empowered. People have to come to realize this can happen anywhere.”

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams echoed Fontbonne’s sentiments during a rally for the girls at Borough Hall on April 11. “We are brought here tonight from people of all different faiths and beliefs to put out a uniform cry: bring our young ladies home. But this is also a larger conversation that we wanted to start. Sometimes we have to turn pain into purpose and the purpose needs to examine issues across the globe,” said Adams during the rally. “This needs to be a wake-up call, in a global sense, to bring our girls home and release them. Allow them to be in charge of their own lives: to be educated, to be employed and to dress as they want to.”

In addition, on April 12, another rally was held outside of City Hall. Most supporters wore red and carried signs that read ‘Bring Back Our Girls.’ During the day, prayer and speeches were held. Local dignitaries in attendance included Public Advocate Letitia James, Councilmembers Laurie A. Cumbo and Vincent Gentile, speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. Attendees were upset, yet hopeful for a positive resolution.

“The pain that comes along with not knowing where your children are is unbelievably unbearable for me to even conceive. I cannot get my head around not being able to see my children,” said mother and member of Harlem Women International, Mary Cannon Screen. “It hasn’t sunk in. I’m faithful and will believe these children will be brought home, but until then, there will be a lot of sleepless nights.”

As the situation continues to develop, many supporters have looked to prayer. “On Mother’s Day, it was important to me that at the end, we prayed separately for the Nigerian girls, because it could happen to anyone,” said attendee Brigid Turner.

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