Robert Smith, African-American Billionaire, Seeks To Fund The Education Of Freed Chibok Girls

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The next phase of life for 21 Chibok girls who were freed from the captivity of Boko Haram will include their continued pursuit of an adequate education. According to The Root, Robert Smith, an African-American billionaire, seeks to fund the education of those girls by enrolling them at the American University of Nigeria.

READ: 21 Chibok Girls Have Been Released From Boko Haram’s Captivity

The scholarship will include the girls’ room and board and their yearly tuition, which can hit close to $11,000. In a statement presented to Forbes, Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said Smith will also guide the educational dreams of “others who will hopefully be eventually set free.”

Smith, 54, attained financial freedom after establishing Vista Equity Partners, tallying his company’s worth at $26 billion. His net worth stands at $2.5 billion. At the top of 2016, Smith granted his alma mater, Cornell University, with a $50 million check and became the chairman of Carnegie Hall.

READ: Human Rights Watch Reports Boko Haram Victims Were Sexually Abused By Nigerian Officials

The lives of 276 girls were changed forever in 2014 when they were kidnapped by militants of Boko Haram. Various atrocities have occurred, including rape and torture. Reports state that 219 girls are still being held captive.

A few girls who escaped shared their stories with various news outlets, including a 15-year-old girl who recalled the instances of abuse she endured to The Guardian. “After we were declared married I was ordered to live in his cave but I always managed to avoid him,” she said. “He soon began to threaten me with a knife to have sex with him, and when I still refused he brought out his gun, warning that he would kill me if I shouted. Then he began to rape me every night. He was a huge man in his mid-30s and I had never had sex before. It was very painful and I cried bitterly because I was bleeding afterwards.”