Nigerians are hurt and angry about the kidnapping of nearly 300 girls from the northern part of the country, but they don't know where to begin to get the girls back, said Augusta Y. Olaore, of Babcock University in Nigeria.
"They're fighting against something that they can't access," she said. "If I know that behind that door there is my child, I'm going to hit on that door and pull it down. But I don't know where to go. It's like fighting an unseen enemy."
Olaore, a visiting professor at Southern Adventist University, and her husband, Israel, a Babcock University administrator and Nigerian church pastor, spoke about the Nigerian girls' abduction after a multicultural training seminar in Chattanooga on Tuesday.
It's been a month since April 14 when Islamic extremist group Boko Haram took nearly 300 girls in the middle of the night from a college dormitory in Chibok, Nigeria. Boko Haram means "Western education is a sin," according to news reports.
The Islamic group wants to convert the girls to Islam, give them in marriages and prevent them from getting an education. One leader in the Boko Haram said Allah said to sell the girls.
Chibok is in the northern part of Nigeria near other Arabic countries where there is a heavy Islamic extremist influence, said Olaore.
Olaore and her family lives in the Southern part of Nigeria where Muslims are not extremist. In fact there may be Christians and Muslims in the same family and girls aren't discouraged from having an education.
The Niger and Benue rivers divide northern Nigeria from the south where Olaore and her husband live.
Nigerians in the United States have felt very encouraged by the responses in the United States and across the world toward the missing girls. When Michelle Obama spoke about the abduction on Mother's Day, Olaore said several people in the United States called her to say they are praying for the girls' deliverance.
More than 550 students and faculty at Girls Preparatory School dressed in red this month and formed a heart shape to support Nigerian mothers and the kidnapped school girls.
Israel Olaore said international and Nigerian government representatives should negotiate for the girls' return.
The rule is never negotiate with terrorist, but when the victims are children, negotiators should find exactly what the kidnappers want and negotiate to get the girls back home.
President Barack Obama said there will be no U.S. troops on the ground in combat.
Olaore said she "shuttered" when she saw the picture circulating in the news media of the girls all dressed is Islamic attire.
"It was like their spirit had been captured," she said. "Like they had been stifled and made to be the imagination of someone else."
Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at email@example.com or 423-757-6431.