In my years of working with victims of Boko Haram terrorism in northern Nigeria, I have never seen anyone like him. After the mass abduction of 276 Chibok schoolgirls, I have worked closely with about 20 who escaped, half of whom I have placed in US schools. Although it is now nine months since the April attack, not one of them escaped after that first week.
This is why Henry’s escape after 9 months is all the more stunning. While the survival of the girls is understandable, Boko Haram has rarely shown mercy to Christian boys.
Three male survivors I have worked with have similar stories. Habila – sole survivor of the massacre of 19 Christian men killed in his neighborhood; Nate – survivor of 5 killed at work; Ike – survivor of 19 killed at a funeral. They all had horrific trauma to their heads – the kill shot once favored for infidels who refuse to convert. Now Boko Haram just slits throats. It’s harder to survive a beheading.
Henry must have touched a cord of compassion amongst the bloodthirsty killers. Upon his abduction, they initially assumed his injured leg was a war injury. Being a soldier meant immediate beheading. Christians usually were given a chance to convert before being killed. Not soldiers – Christian or Muslim.