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Leonard Pitts Jr.: Wow! And thanks to you

Oklahoman Published: June 13, 2014
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How about some good news for a change?

Last month, I wrote about the kidnapping of nearly 300 Nigerian schoolgirls by a band of putative men who style themselves “Boko Haram” — “Western Education is Forbidden.” Taken in concert with the 2012 shooting of Malala Yousafzai in Pakistan and the 2008 acid attack on Shamsia Husseini in Afghanistan, this latest outrage cements an impression that Islamic extremists are petrified of girls and what they might become with a little education.

It is a frustrating, anger-making thing. “Make me wanna holler,” as Marvin Gaye once sang.

But this time for some reason, I needed to do more than holler. I needed to take action. It seemed to me the best way to fight against people seeking to interdict the education of Nigerian girls was to help ensure that still more Nigerian girls go to school.

That led me to the Peace Corps Nigeria Alumni Foundation (PCNAF.org), a small group of Peace Corps vets in greater Washington, D.C., that exists for the specific purpose of providing scholarships for Nigerian girls. I spoke to their president, Albert Hannans, verified their link to the Peace Corps, searched Lexis-Nexis for red flags. Finding none, I sent a small donation to PCNAF c/o P.O. Box 65530, Washington, D.C. 20035 and wrote about it in this space. I figured a few of you might do the same.

I was wrong. It wasn’t a few of you. It was a whole bunch of you. So many that Hannans tells me the little group’s treasurer is overwhelmed and it’s become a welcome hardship just running back and forth to the bank. The present tally: $35,000 and climbing, a huge amount given that $500 represents a year’s tuition.

Or as Hannans puts it: “Wow.”

“It gives us the opportunity to provide support to a lot more girls. We’ve had very limited resources. That has changed now.” Hannans says PCNAF is even hoping to use some of the funds to benefit the kidnapped girls themselves. He’s trying to arrange that when they are released, some will be able to attend American University of Nigeria, which has a secondary school (equivalent to a U.S. high school) on its campus and, better, “a very sizable security force.”

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