Surgeries and Therapy: Everything you need to know about the 82 Chibok girls’ journey to recovery

82 Chibok girls' journey to recover
82 Chibok girls' journey to recovery / Image via Twitter / Unicef Nigeria

On Thursday, the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajiya Jummai Alhassan revealed that some of the 82 Chibok girls who were released from captivity on Saturday would be needing surgery after several disorders were discovered.

These disorders were discovered during the medical screening exercise which the girls are presently undergoing. Alhassan said the medical screening will last for the next 2 to 3 weeks.

What ‘ailments’ are the girls being treated for?

Although media reports did not elaborate on what ‘ailments’ the girls were to be operated for, an exclusive by CNN, however, revealed that some of the girls have shrapnel wounds from their time with Boko Haram. Some other girls still have fragments of bullets and bombs debris in their bodies that needs to be removed surgically.

Besides physical wounds, some girls also suffered psychological damages ranging from post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to insomnia.

A team consisting of a psychiatrist, psychologist, and social worker, are among those assigned to take care of the girls — their mental health in particular.

The psychologist spoke anonymously to CNN and said the girls have made “tremendous improvement.”

He said when the girls were first released, they had symptoms of PTSD, nightmares, insomnia. However, they’re doing very well now.

The 21 Chibok girls who were released in October last year, according to Alhassan, also came back in bad shape. They spent almost two months under medical care before they were handed over to her on December 22, 2016.

How many girls are to undergo surgery?

While the government did disclose to CNN that some girls would need to be operated on in order to remove fragments of bombshells still embedded in their bodies, they gave no further details about how many of them are being treated for this.

Are their parents aware of this surgery?

There is no definitive answer to this right now.

The 82 schoolgirls freed on Saturday haven’t met their parents yet. Although, according to the Minister of Women Affairs, the government has put plans in place to reunite the 82 schoolgirls with their parents in a couple of days. But that will be after the parents have identified their daughters among the pictures sent to Chibok through the Chairman of the community.

She said: “The parents and the 82 girls will soon unite in a couple of days, but it will have to be well planned. It is not going to be easy to transport all 82 parents. That is 164 persons.  Transportation and security have to be provided because the number is quite large, and you all know how sensitive Borno State is at the moment”.

Since the government is obviously in communication with the parents, it is safe to say that they’re in the loop on the state of the girls and the steps being taken to rehabilitate them.

Where exactly are the Chibok girls right now

Since about 276 schoolgirls were kidnapped from Government Secondary School in the town of Chibok in Borno State, at least 103 have been released — besides those that escaped or were rescued. 21 girls were freed in October 2016 and on Saturday, May 5, another 82.

However, before now, their whereabout has been somewhat of a mystery since it is obvious they have not returned home to their families.

Besides the brief reunion of the 21 schoolgirls released in October 2016 with their families, and the meeting between President Buhari and the just-released 82 schoolgirls on Sunday — both of which happened at the Presidential Villa in Abuja and were widely televised; we knew very little about where the girls were being kept.

There have even been people asking the government to make it clear if they are holding the girls in preventive detention or as criminal suspects.  

But surprisingly, on Thursday, the government opened its doors to CNN, granting the media organization what they described as ‘A rare inside look at the Chibok girls’ road to recovery.’

The exclusive revealed that the 21 schoolgirls that were released in October last year are being kept in a heavily guarded government facility on the outskirt of Abuja.

This facility, which is more like a hostel, is where the girls have been undergoing rehabilitation and therapy.

In this facility, there are also remedial classes to help them catch up on the years of education they missed.

“They were picked from school so education is key,” says Nigeria’s women’s minister Aisha Alhassan, whose ministry oversees their welfare.

Alhassan disclosed that it was the choice of the Chibok girls and their parents to stay under the care of the Federal Government in Abuja.