Every evening, Enoch Mark reads from his big old Bible. His wife Martha sits beside him on a mattress on their bedroom floor. They say the words of the Bible have been a great source of comfort in the past three years since their two daughters were kidnapped by Boko Haram.
“Time will tell. They will be free one day, one time. I’m still hopeful. I’m still hopeful,” said Enoch. But he’s also angry. To date, the Nigerian government has not found all of the schoolgirls who were kidnapped.
April 14 marks three years since Boko Haram kidnapped 276 girls from a school in the northeast Nigerian town of Chibok.
Fifty-seven of them escaped from Boko Haram; three of them were found by locals. But most of the girls are still missing. President Muhammadu Buhari says talks to free the remaining girls continue, but activists and parents of the Chibok girls say the government has failed them.
With the help of the Red Cross and the Swiss government, the Nigerian government did recover 21 of the girls last year. But Mark says that’s not enough. He says Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has failed.
“If Buhari will be sincere with himself, why can’t he put this insurgency under control? ” Mark asks. “How many girls has his government rescued among the Chibok girls? If he will tell himself the truth, does he really mean business as the president of Nigeria?”
WATCH: Chika’s report from Abuja
Aisha Yesufu, one of the leaders of the Bring Back Our Girls group in the Nigerian capital Abuja, met with members of the community earlier this week to remind the public that girls are still missing. They’ve kept the campaign going. The group has gotten smaller as the years have gone by, but members like Oby Ezekwesili can still excite a crowd.
It’s been a difficult three years for the parents of the missing school girls. After the mass abduction, Boko Haram attacked Chibok again a couple of times.
Nineteen parents have died, having never gotten to see their daughters again. Martha, Enoch’s wife, has joined the women’s choir at her local church.
She says participating in church activities has helped her survive the years without her two daughters. But some days are more difficult than others, Martha admits – adding that she’s trying to manage her emotional distress, but it’s taking a toll.
“The thing is paining me. I have tension worrying me,” Martha says. “I have hypertension and some ulcers and other sickness in my body, so the thing is paining me seriously.”
The Mark family is doing the best they can to continue with life. Enoch had a massive stroke last year. Martha is not sure if she will ever see her daughters again.
Twelve-year-old Hannatu is worried that she may forget what her sisters look like. Sixteen-year-old Ruth is still suffering from a hip injury from when she ran away from Boko Haram the night her sisters were kidnapped.
The family heard the announcement this week that the Nigerian government is negotiating to recover the rest of the Chibok Girls. But, they’ve heard this before.
* Also see our Special Report on Boko Haram “In The Home of Peace, A Siege of Fear