The amount of trauma they are bringing with them must be overwhelming.
Their sufferings have not only harmed them personally. They have created challenges in terms of returning to their families.. How will their dear ones relate to them? What are the effects of three years of separation? Their families will probably have little understanding of what serious trauma implies, and how to relate to it. (This is the same anywhere in the world.)
What about neighbours, friends, peers and the local community? What about stigma? In brief, what are their real chances of taking their lives back?
The challenges are threefold, involving the girls, their families and their local community.
This requires comprehensive long term support.
How likely is it that this massive challenge will be adequately addressed? What is the local capacity for trauma treatment and re-integration?
After the Westgate terrorist attack in Nairobi, I debriefed a number of victims, and found that some of them needed to see a trauma therapist. Even in Kenya’s capital that turned out to be a challenge. The few specialists I found had private practices and were not easily available.
What more, the ones I linked up with, did not meet the expectations of the victims. Chibok is a countryside town of some 66.000 inhabitants. What trauma treatment capacity is available there?
What is the Nigerian Government doing? Whatever its attitude, one can hardly expect that an adequate number of trauma specialists is available for deployment in Chibok.
This leaves the international community with a challenge. If the welfare of these girls is a concern to us, release is not enough. There must be a comprehensive long term programme to help them cope with their trauma, re-unite with their families and re-integrate with local community. Even the international community may not be able to muster sufficient external resources. There is however, such a thing as training and use of volunteers, for instance from the Church. Most of the aspects and activities presented in my article Recovering after Kidnapping can be understood and applied by lay persons.
To sum up: While the international initiative ‘Bring back our Girls’ must be kept up till all of them are freed, so much more is needed to give them their lives back.