Boko Haram Survivor Speaks

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by David Nussman  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  February 16, 2018   

Catholic teenage girl in Nigeria survived attacks, lives in refugee camp

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YOLA, Nigeria (ChurchMilitant.com) - A displaced Catholic teen in Nigeria is getting spotlighted in the Catholic media world.

This week, Catholic websites have shed light on the dramatic story of Rebecca Peter, a 15-year-old Catholic girl who has been displaced from her home since 2014. The story was first brought to light by Aid to the Church in Need, an international non-profit helping persecuted Christians around the globe.

In August 2014, Boko Haram members raided the village of Wuro Ngayadi, where the girl lived with her five siblings and her parents. She and other villagers darted away amidst a hailstorm of bullets.

She lived "in a bush," she said, for two weeks. Peter was tempted to despair during those days. She relates, "I said all the prayers they taught me at catechism until I was tired but, still, I spent two whole weeks in the bush. What did I do wrong in the eyes of God?"

During that time traveling on foot, she recalls, "Mangoes were the only food available."

"After the ripe ones ran out, I started to eat the unripe ones," Peter elaborates. "I knew they would make me sick, and indeed they gave me severe stomach upset, but I felt it was better to eat them than eat nothing at all."

Her faith in God was restored when she was able to reunite with family members. She says, "I won't lie, for those two weeks when I had to hide in the bush, I lost faith in God. It seemed as if He didn't care. But reuniting with my mother helped me regain my faith in Him. The fact that He brought us all back together makes me believe He cares."

The fact that He brought us all back together makes me believe He cares.

After 15 days of wandering, Rebecca and her family arrived at the village of Michika. But within a few days, Boko Haram attacked that village as well.

She traveled another 170 miles through Nigeria till she arrived at the refugee camp near the town of Yola.

At one point during all her foot travel, she hid at a distance as Boko Haram members were nearby and witnessed a series of brutal beheadings. 

After she arrived at Yola, Peter entered an Internally Displaced Person (IDP) camp. She lives in the St. Theresa IDP camp today.

Peter lamented the destruction and chaos that Boko Haram has caused in Nigeria. "Today, there is nothing sweet about Nigeria," she said, "Nothing! I say so because of my current situation. I am displaced."

She reminisced about her life back in her home and village, recalling, "I once had a room with a comfortable bed in a proper house. We lived in our own house. We didn't pay rent. My mother was a farmer. My parents provided for us. My father was a policeman."

This is in stark contrast with her current living conditions. She complains, "Now, I sleep in a hall full of people with mattresses on the ground. When I hear news about my village, it is about bomb blasts and raids in our area."

Boko Haram is a radical Islamic insurgency that has devastated rural areas in the northeastern part of Nigeria.

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